Financial literacy is too often a privilege of the wealthy. Justin Tuck is changing that.

It's not uncommon to hear about the financial struggles of former NFL players who, in spite of multimillion-dollar deals, are now living paycheck to paycheck.

It's easy to judge them, but that's ignoring a very real truth: Financial literacy is a privilege often afforded to the already wealthy, not the newly wealthy.

As Justin Tuck, retired Giants defensive end, told Reuters, "Look at the average NFL roster, and most players come from low-income families. They go from being 18-year-old kids with nothing to being 21-year-olds with millions of dollars. ... They get all this money all of a sudden, and they just don't know how to handle it."


Image via Heath Brandon/Flickr.

That kind of wealth isn't easy to manage, and when it happens in such a short period of time, at such a pivotal moment in the player's lives, it's too easy to lose control and wind up in dire financial straights.

That's part of the inspiration behind Tuck's R.U.S.H. for Literacy.

The solution to being poor isn't just to acquire more money; it's also to know how to manage and grow your money. So in 2008, Justin and his wife, Lauran, founded Tuck's R.U.S.H. for Literacy, an organization dedicated to addressing a number of issues, including financial literacy for low-income families.

R.U.S.H. stands for read, understand, succeed, and hope, and Justin and Lauran set out together to encourage those ideals by donating lots and lots of books — over 86,000 of them, in fact — to children who needed them. They wanted to help decrease summer learning loss, when kids lose a lot of the momentum gained throughout the school year.

Image via Ginny/Flickr.

But they noticed that encouraging regular literacy was only part of the equation when it came to keeping the kids motivated and invested in their academics. Financial literacy is also a huge factor. So they set out to equip students and their families with the skills, tools, and hope needed to thrive in school, college, and beyond.

Financial literacy is directly related to which kids pursue undergraduate degrees.

As explained in a 2010 Center for Social Development research brief by William Elliott III and Sandra Beverly, financial planning has a huge effect on college attendance:

"We assume that savings and wealth may have two effects on college attendance. The first effect is direct and mainly financial ... . The second effect is indirect and mainly attitudinal: If youth grow up knowing they have money to help pay for current and future schooling, they may have higher educational expectations."

Image via Tax Credits/Flickr.

The people behind R.U.S.H. noticed this link between having a college savings account and going to college. Lauran told Upworthy that in spite of efforts to even the playing field, "there were still barriers to college access. A lot of the kids — especially those that were at risk — were responding saying they still didn't think they were going to go to college. They said it's too expensive."

Seeing this problem, R.U.S.H. stepped in with a long-term solution.

Lauran and Justin partnered with a number of organizations and began seeding college savings accounts and raising matching funds. Megan Holston-Alexander, R.U.S.H.'s program director, shared that the initial "seed was $150,000, given at $100 per student. As of June 1, 2015, the accounts have risen another $40,794." And that amount will only continue to grow.

Lauran explained that the financial contributions have been supported by efforts to educate the families so that "parents and students understand why we're saving for college and so that parents understand that their money is going to be matched."

Image via Nazareth College/Flickr.

Justin emphasized to families that "if it's important to you, then you have to be prepared to sacrifice."

R.U.S.H. isn't making college free; it's planting the seed of hope and arming families with the information necessary to prepare for their children's futures.

As Lauran stated, "what keeps us going is the 'H' in the acronym, the 'Hope' piece of it. We want to provide for so many kids and families hope, where the opportunity gaps do exist. It's the hope that motivates us."

By giving parents the skills necessary to maintain financial health and enabling them to set up college-savings accounts for their kids, R.U.S.H. helps these communities to build a legacy of achievement. They're making it possible for the kids and their families to see and work toward goals that may have felt impossible. R.U.S.H. is making it possible to dream. But more importantly, it's making it possible to achieve.

Several years ago, you wouldn't have known what QAnon was unless you spent a lot of time reading through comments on Twitter or frequented internet chat rooms. Now, with prominent Q adherents making headlines for storming the U.S. Capitol and elements of the QAnon worldview spilling into mainstream politics, the conspiracy theory/doomsday cult has become a household topic of conversation.

Many of us have watched helplessly as friends and family members fall down the rabbit hole, spewing strange ideas about Democrats and celebrities being pedophiles who torture children while Donald Trump leads a behind-the-scenes roundup of these evil Deep State actors. Perfectly intelligent people can be susceptible to conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A person who was a true believer in QAnon mythology (which you can read more about here) recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit, and what they shared about their experiences was eye-opening. The writer's Reddit handle is "diceblue," but for simplicity's sake we'll call them "DB."

DB explained that they weren't new to conspiracy theories when QAnon came on the scene. "I had been DEEP into conspiracy for about 8 years," they wrote. "Had very recently been down the ufo paranormal rabbit hole so when Q really took off midterm for trump I 'did my research' and fell right into it."

DB says they were a true believer until a couple of years ago when they had an experience that snapped them out of it:

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

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