BOD Spotlight: Brian Griggs, President

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TBF: How do you think private education affected where you are now?

BG: My childhood education was in a private school, but I want to reiterate that The BASIC Fund is not about public versus private school education. Public school was great for my kids, and I went to a public college. I think private education, in the right situation, is a good alternative to public schools but the choice between the two isn’t about socioeconomic factors, but individual factors. Some people love learning in the public forum, but others need more individual care and attention, which is often associated with private schools. I feel like that focus of a smaller, private school helped provide me a solid educational path forward.

With that said, I think part of the BASIC principle is that parents are helping pay for their child’s education. That's unusual for families who don’t have a lot of means, so when families are paying a percentage of their child’s tuition, that seems to require more accountability and leads to more effort and as a consequence, more learning. Children, as they get older, eventually realize their parents are giving them the “gift of education” and that doesn’t go unnoticed.

TBF: You have experience finding education options for students with learning differences. How do you think The BASIC Fund opens doors for students with learning differences?

BG: I know the personality of someone with learning differences, and there can be a tendency to be very reclusive and reserved. A key element of addressing learning disabilities is confidence, and part of building confidence is your environment and how your teachers and classmates look at you. Recognizing that people aren’t dealt the same hand intellectually, I firmly believe everyone wants to do their best within their capabilities and even outperform their perceived limitations. Differentiated teaching is critical, as often in a typical class 20% are learning at a high level, 20% are learning at a low level, and 60% are in the middle, but a teacher needs to teach to the level of every student. I think the teacher-student ratio is also a huge part of differentiated teaching and I think a private school education, which the BASIC Fund helps fund, provides an advantage with lower student-teacher ratios. Private schools also often can provide not only physical but also emotional safety, and I think this only further helps those with learning differences.

TBF: How might the search for education options for students with learning differences differ for low-income families?

BG: We don’t give scholarships based on ability. The parents are behind most of the success of the BASIC Fund, and they’re sacrificing a lot to help their children succeed.

I think families with lower incomes are often forced towards the easiest economic solution (meaning public schools), and often the most physically proximate location is the school next door where you can drop your child on the way to work, even though the one a mile away might be better.

To be able to receive your scholarship from the BASIC Fund and bring it to the school you think is a perfect fit is a huge educational opportunity for those with learning differences. Certainly, the BASIC Fund gives low-income parents a choice they might not otherwise have to find the best, not just the easiest, fit for their child.

TBF: With your donations, you’ve supported 48 students through 8th grade graduation with The BASIC Fund. Given your background as a self-made business owner, what advice do you have for them on succeeding on their own terms?

BG: I think it’s back to that competitive nature—competition can be self-driving and phenomenal in many other ways, but it can be bad when you’re just trying to keep up. I was never the smartest guy in the class, but I learned how to work hard, and I realized that you control own your future. When you're working to achieve your own priorities and motivations, anyone can succeed. Hard work is the most important ingredient, like eggs in a cake—but you need to have some luck along the way, but if you work hard and you’re not cutting corners, that's when you see results.

I once said that I got lucky with this or that, and a friend told me, “Luck isn’t something that just falls in your lap. Luck is something you take advantage of when the opportunity arises.” I saw that opportunity in The BASIC Fund, and it makes me proud to support it.

TBF: You've been very involved in the creation of the BASIC Fund Endowment. How do you think it carries on the vision of the founders?

BG: I think what the Endowment does is make the BASIC Fund sustainable in perpetuity, meaning that we’re not going to be directly impacted by the highs and lows of the economy or specific donors. We're going into our third decade, and that’s a long time for someone to donate. If we, our donors, or our staff have something happen to them, you don’t want to put a student at risk of not having their dreams supported. Establishing an endowment where we know we are going to be able to fund more students without worrying where the money will come from gives you the ability to impact more people. The BASIC Fund sets aside the money for every student for their whole tenure when we initially award a scholarship. This means we don’t have to raise funds on a year-by-year basis for our students and I think the foundation furthers that stability.



The BASIC Fund is a privately funded 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to advance education equity for low-income families by helping offset the cost of tuition at private schools in the Bay Area.

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