A stranger pledged $1 million to put kids through college

All 26 students in Tessa Ashton’s kindergarten class speak Spanish at home. They arrived at school the first day knowing little English, or ever hearing much about college.

But Ashton makes a point to talk to them about college every day. “I tell them that they need to sit and listen, because that’s a skill they’ll need when they go to a place called college,” she said.

Many students at Rio Vista Elementary, may never be able to afford college. But these 26 families won’t have to worry about that anymore.

“I thought, let’s take that financial burden away and maybe these kids will get more encouragement about going to college,” Burbank told CNNMoney.

A few months ago, he was set on buying a boat and had his search narrowed down to two choices. But his pastor’s sermon one Sunday about charity and sacrifice changed his mind.

“I thought that buying a boat at that point would be a selfish thing,” he said.

Burbank has donated time, money and supplies to Rio Vista Elementary and its teachers several times over the past four years after meeting Ashton at church.

A school-wide initiative encourages students to think about college there. Each teacher chooses a specific university to focus on for the year and flies the school flag outside the classroom for “College Fridays.” Ashton’s classroom is decked out with Indiana University garb, her alma mater. And Burbank gave each student an IU sweatshirt and t-shirt with “Class of 2032” printed on it.

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