“We were blessed with good parents”


deborah mcdonald

Working with her brother and sister, our guest blogger Deborah McDonald helped to start Operation Timothy, an after school tutoring program designed to keep students from falling behind in school and dropping out.  Operation Timothy is a ministry of David’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Tanner, Alabama.

I was born and raised in a small rural community in Alabama. I was raised in a large family by two loving parents. Having parents like mine made the difference in our lives. We didn’t have a lot of material things, but we had two people that knew what we needed to grow and survive in this world. They stressed education.   If you are educated you can go places and become a productive citizen rather than a burden to your community and society, they would say. They were loving and nurturing, but they were also tough. My parents loved life, God and they loved to see us do well in school. They provided the guidance, time and attention that we needed at the stages in our lives that we needed it.

Not all kids have the parents that my sisters and brothers and I had, this is why we do what we do. In the community that we live in there are many children in single parent homes, kids in homes where education is not a priority, they don’t get enough time and attention at home, therefore they don’t do well at school. A lot of people will say this is because they are low income as well, but we were low income and we succeeded.   Income alone is not the problem. Children that grow up in families where there is not enough nurturing, emphasis on education and low income are “at risk” of dropping out of school and becoming a burden to society.

My older brother and sister saw many children in our community from these homes, the high school dropout rate was very high and we decided that we needed to do something.  We were blessed with good parents so we wanted to give back to the community. We started an after school program that we named “Operation Timothy.” We offer tutoring, mentoring and one on one attention to children that are “at risk” in our community. We believe that if we can make a difference in one of these kids lives it will be worth it. “Operation Timothy” has been in operation for six years and has been very successful. The community has embraced us and we are giving these kids what they need to succeed.

Two big books and a little story

At the Dekko Foundation our ways of thinking have been changed by two big books and a little story.

The first book that’s impacted us is Toxic Charity, by Robert Lupton.  It’s a quick read…maybe two hours start to finish. The reason we liked it so much is that a lot of Lupton’s beliefs match up with those of Mr. Dekko, our founder.    Lupton states, “Giving to those in need, what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people.”  If you’re in the business of helping people help themselves, you’ll want to pick up Toxic Charity.

The Coming Jobs War is the second book on our minds.  It was written by Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallop (yes, the poll people).  Clifton’s premise is that a global jobs war is coming.  Leaders of countries and cities, Clifton says, should focus on creating good jobs because as good jobs go, so goes the fate of nations.  Again, there’s a tie-in to our mission of fostering economic freedom through education.  We’re helping people and organizations instill great skills, knowledge and character in young people.   That way they’ll be ready to take on those new jobs and build strong communities.

Finally, there’s a little story that we return to again and again.  We like it because it points out the difference, and the tension, between emotion-based charity and critical social change.  It’s the ancient folktale of Babies in the River.  You heard us…babies in the river!  If you have a few minutes, search for the parable and read it to understand what we’re talking about.

Use our comment section to let us know what’s making YOU think!

Smart is the new black!

Black…it’s understated, perfect anywhere and never out of style!


Smart Grantseeking…it’s efficient, informative and uses time wisely.

We know that all funding organizations do things differently…so, we sympathize with you, Mr. or Ms. Grantseeker.  Some foundations have deadlines and requirements for multiple copies.  Others accept proposals anytime, but only online proposals.

We have something that we think might help…at least when applying to our foundation.  Follow this link to our Grantseeker Support.  There you’ll find things like Dekko Foundation 101 and a long list of FAQ’s.  We’re hip, so we have video tips from our program officers.  If you’re very new at this whole grantseeking thing, we even have a Glossary of Philanthropic Terms.

If you’re thinking of applying for a grant you might want to try on a distant cousin to the classic little black dress…it’s called the telephone…our program officers are available to chat with you about ideas for a grant proposal and answer any questions that you might have.  260-347-1278.


What is economic freedom, anyway?

Our founder, Mr. Chet Dekko, was absolutely, positively, passionate about economic freedom.  So much so that, with the fruits of his life’s work, he started a foundation to help future generations have the same access to economic freedom that he held dear.

So, what is economic freedom anyway?

We’re glad you asked.  Here are some definitions that we think are spot-on…and inspirational as the dickens!

  • Economic freedom means producing more than you consume.
  • Economic freedom is the ultimate liberty to make choices about one’s own life.

What are the steps toward economic freedom?  We think that:

  • Economic freedom begins with education.   Learning helps a person to build valuable skills and knowledge.
  • Possessing skills and knowledge opens the door to opportunities.
  • The more opportunities a person has, the more chances he or she has to be productive.
  • When a person’s production outpaces consumption, then economic freedom appears.

So, how do these beliefs direct our work?

We invest in projects that help children and youth, up to age 18, build the skills, knowledge and character that they’ll need to travel the path toward economic freedom.

What is your definition of economic freedom?  We’d love to know!