The meaning of ThanksgivingAs we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, we reflect on the meaning of this holiday. At a time when many of us seek to be more aware of the inequities built into our culture, we recognize that the narrative we’ve celebrated for decades is a fable, not factual history. The holiday was created by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, as he celebrated a Union victory. Lincoln sought to unify a divided nation. But the real champion of this new National Holiday was none other than the author of the famous children’s poem “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

Sara Josepha Hale was a prolific and respected author and editor who cared deeply about women’s rights. Ms. Hale had been the editor of Godey’s Lady Book for only a year, but she had already built the readership of that publication to 150,000 at the start of the Civil War. She had grown up celebrating the Day of Thanks. This tradition had been endorsed nearly a century earlier by several Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and even George Washington himself. Ms. Hale wrote to President Lincoln, imploring him to create a permanent, national day of celebration. Lincoln listened, and a tradition was born.

Acknowledging Our History

This National Holiday does bring our nation together. Sadly, as we look deeper into history, we find that the happy version of history taught to our children is a fairytale. While the story intends to make us feel good, it hides the truth of the atrocities inflicted upon Native peoples throughout this nation’s history – mistreatment which in many ways continues today.

Charter School Capital’s offices are in downtown Portland—land taken from the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and other Native peoples. We take this moment to acknowledge that history and their suffering

The Meaning of Thanksgiving: Gratefulness, Unity, and Generosity

We look then for a better interpretation of this holiday, and our minds turn to the core values we aim to celebrate: gratefulness, unity, and generosity.


Gratefulness does not consist of ignoring the many challenges we’ve faced this year. Gratefulness is the mindful practice of turning our eyes towards the good that has come into our lives. Gratefulness for accomplishments of our own making and successes that are the fruit of our efforts, such as the renewal of your school’s charter, the expansion into new grades, or new facilities. Gratefulness for whatever good fortune has come our way, even in a challenging year. Gratefulness for our friends, our partners, and our allies. Gratefulness also for the generosity and kindness we see in others.


We have traditionally expressed our unity by traveling to gather with our loved ones. This year poses some challenges. The pandemic forced many of us to find new ways to express our unity. Fortunately, the same technology schools are using for virtual learning also makes it possible to ‘gather without gathering’ in virtual spaces.

Whatever means we choose to express our togetherness, let’s remember that our unity makes us strong. We’ve seen a year of political and racial tension. This time of year is a good time for healing, for compassion, and for coming together.


This time of year is as good as any moment for us to be mindful of our fellow Americans. Those who are struggling due to COVID-19. Those who might have lost their job or experienced reduced hours. Those who are struggling to meet the mortgage payment.

We Americans have a strong history of embracing charitable deeds. And this is the season to be generous.

Charter School Capital has embraced the spirit of generosity from the beginning of the pandemic. As early as April, we reached out to our charter school partners and extended a full month of free financing. Many took us up on the offer. Many more would come to take part in this initiative in the ensuing months. Over the Spring and Summer, we saw more and more charter schools engaging with our free financing offer. And we were glad to help.

So far this year, Charter School Capital has donated over $400,000 to charter schools to make this chaotic, difficult period less challenging.

Our company also announced that we would match any employee donations to 501c3 charities up to $500. This effort showed us that encouraging people to give can have ripples larger than we imagine.

This Thanksgiving, we encourage you to gather with your loved ones on Zoom, on Facebook, on whatever platform you enjoy most. Send virtual hugs and kisses, share moments, and see your family’s smiles. We hope you’ll stay safe and that we all weather this health crisis and see happier times in 2021 and beyond.

We encourage you as well to find ways to be generous. Give to the charity of your choice. Visit a charity with your children and convey to them the power of human kindness through active deeds.

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Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!

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