This is a day of gratitude in the United States.  We give thanks for all of life’s goodness.  I’ve been fortunate to be on the receiving end of much kindness over the years.  Back before I had any success as a VC, I had failed…not once, but twice…as a CEO in the technology industry.  Those were some rough years.  My children were just heading out to college and I really didn’t have the money to send them.  They were the fortunate recipients of scholarships from generous donors.  Those scholarships allowed my children to get a quality education, and I was and am very grateful.

Since then, I’ve had the good fortune of finding some financial success.  But I’ve never forgotten that when I needed help, like so many people do at some point in life, I got it.  Therefore, my wife and I created the Dempsey Foundation to give back for all the blessings we’ve received.

The Dempsey Foundation provides scholarships for students like my kids who need a little help making their dreams happen.  We also provide teaching scholarships to faculty so that universities can retain good professors.

The Dempsey Foundation recently announced a scholarship fund at Willamette University in honor of my daughter Heather.  Heather is an alumnus of Willamette University, a fine university that she would not have been able to attend without the scholarships she received.  You can read about it here:

We have also provided scholarship funds at my son Sean’s alma mater, Claremont McKenna College.  Like my daughter, he was able to attend this school because of the scholarships funded by others and we’re happy to give back now that we can.

This past week, I was happy to participate in the dedication of a new building at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.  The University of Washington is my alma mater and I’m grateful for the education I received there.  The new Dempsey Hall, which I am honored to have named after my family, will house the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a program that is dear to me as I look for breakthrough entrepreneurial ideas in my day job.  It’s a labor of love to not only give funds when needed, but my time as a mentor to students at the school.  Dempsey Hall is a state-of-the-art building that is built to encourage collaboration and take the school into the future with features like video conferencing for distance learning.  It took the contribution of many people to make the building project happen, and I’m very happy to have been just one of them.

You can read about Dempsey Hall and see a video of the building here:

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I challenge you to think about how you can make a real difference in your world and give back in whatever way you can.  Give your time, your ideas, your gifts, or give money when you can.  However you give, stretch beyond what you think you’re capable of doing.  When I first made a pledge to the University of Washington, I was just coming off my failure as a CEO.  I didn’t have the money and I didn’t know how I was going to get it.  But that pledge drove me to figure out a way to make it happen.  Give more than you think you can…because that’s when you’ll find out YOU CAN DO IT!

And if you’d like to see a fun video the University created about my involvement with the school, you can view it here:

Happy Thanksgiving!