Almost from the day the Spy started in 2009, we have been fascinated by the impact of certain philanthropists on our small communities of the Mid-Shore. From marinas in Chestertown to culinary investments in Easton or revitalizing the tiny downtown of Trappe, these highly successful people have invested real capital into the hearts and bones of these sometimes struggling communities.
The common word used for these folks are “angel” investors, someone who appears out of nowhere and decides, against serious conventional wisdom, to provide major bucks for what they perceive to the greatest needs in a community.
For John and Janice Wyatt, that great investment opportunity in Dorchester County has been to increase the reading skills of young children significantly.
After a successful career as a serial entrepreneur based out of Fairfax, Virginia, and with the very lucrative sale of his sixth business, John and Janice began fulfilling their genuine passion for philanthropic investment. John, growing up in his native Australia, became forever grateful for that country’s investment in public education. So he was stunned to see how the United States, for all its mighty resources, had failed in giving its children “a fair go,” the OZ term for a fair chance.
With that in mind, the couple formed the John and Janice Wyatt Foundation. It started to apply an entrepreneurial approach to early childhood education. And they also wanted to focus their work on three unique communities. First in their home community of Fairfax County, secondly to the far more rural town of Winchester in the western part of the state, and finally to Dorchester County, where they had bought a second home in 2015.
And over the last few years, the Wyatt Foundation has made it one of their principal objectives to triple the reading test scores for young children in Dorchester. After the Wyatts’ due diligence in studying the challenges, the hiring of former Mace’s Lane Middle School principal Jymil Thompson, and affiliating itself with the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, this radical new approach kicked off last month.
In his Spy interview, John talks about the nucleus of the Wyatt Foundation, his rationale in making Dorchester a priority, and how he and Janice will be measuring success over the next few years.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about The John and Janice Wyatt Foundation please go here.