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Philanthropists Pledge $10 Million To Re-Open Head Start Programs During Shutdown

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A Houston-based hedge fund manager and his wife pledged $10 million Monday to help more than 7,000 children who have been kicked out of Head Start programs during the first week of the government shutdown.

The donation, given by John and Laura Arnold, will benefit children in six states -- Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi.

Head Start, operating under United States Department of Health and Human Services, provides education, health, nutrition and parent-involvement services to low-income children and families. The closing of the program means many parents must miss work and school to find alternative child care, according a statement from the organization.

 “The Arnolds’ most generous act epitomizes what it means to be an angel investor; they have selflessly stepped up for Head Start children to ensure their path toward kindergarten readiness is not interrupted by the inability of government to get the nation’s fiscal house in order,” said Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association.

The Arnolds said they were disappointed in the stalemate leading up to the government shutdown, and noted the impact on the lives of many low-income Americans.

"We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature's collective failures," the couple said in a statement. "We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments."

Addressing the personal donation, Head Start said the Arnolds will be repaid for their generosity if the government provides programs with sufficient funding for the year, following the end of the shudown.

More than 11,000 additional children risk losing access to Head Start services if the shutdown continues through October, a statement explains. If the government does not reopen by Nov. 1, funding may be lost to additional Head Start programs serving more than 86,000 children in 41 states and one U.S. territory.

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