The Philanthropic Ex-Football Player to Watch If You’re Into Early Literacy

 Justin and lauran tuck. photo: Debby Wong/shutterstock

Justin and lauran tuck. photo: Debby Wong/shutterstock

Quite a few pro athletes turn their attention towards philanthropy once their best game days are in the rear-view mirror. Where they grew up, where they played, and who they marry will often dictate where their charitable dollars and efforts will flow. And with an average NFL retirement age of just 30, these ex-players have a lot of years left to perfect their giving styles and strategies. Also, given today's salaries for top players, they can have some significant resources to work with. 

Justin Tuck made his wealth sacking quarterbacks as a defensive end in the NFL. Hailing from Kellyton, Alabama, the 34-year-old former player took the field for the New York Giants and the Oakland Raiders. But his wife, Lauran, is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and has emerged as a passionate philanthropist and education advocate.  

Justin and Lauran Tuck are young and wealthy, but they already seem to have an understanding that their success comes with some serious responsibility. To learn the ins and outs of giving grants, managing funds, and navigating all the legalities, the Tuck couple has actually gone back to school. Lauren attended Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice to get a master’s degree in order to help her become a better philanthropist. Dating back to her childhood in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, she has credited her parents for inspiring her to give back to her community. Now, Justin Tuck is attending the Wharton School at Penn and completing his M.B.A. for this same reason. Today, the Tucks live in Bergen County, New Jersey with their two young sons.

By far, the biggest cause for Justin and Lauran Tuck so far is early literacy. Back in 2008, they established Tuck’s R.U.S.H. (Read, Understand, Succeed, Hope) for Literacy to address education inequalities and help schools access quality reading materials. Underserved children in New York, New Jersey and Central Alabama have largely been the focus of these efforts. Lauren Tuck gave her former high school in Bensalem money to acquire 3-D printers, and the couple has supported summer programs for kids in Philadelphia and Lancaster. The couple has extended its philanthropy to the San Francisco Bay Area as well, donating funds early literacy efforts for low-income kids here. Justin Tuck has served on the board of the Sonima Foundation, which provides health and wellness programs, like yoga and meditation, to school children in grades K-12.

The Tucks’ story plays into a larger theme of millennials getting involved in philanthropy at a much earlier age than previous generations. Millennial philanthropists are also starting to train their children at an even younger age to perpetuate the spirit of family giving. These can be lessons passed down through generations, as with many of the top family foundations in the country. Or they can require going back to school for more formal training, as in the case of the Tucks. Either way, the next generations of philanthropists may be poised to be better educated and prepared than their predecessors. Financial literacy isn’t just a grantmaking cause; it’s a key factor in being a grantmaker too.

Justin and Lauran Tuck said:

We also believe that it’s important that people make informed decisions based on what money means to them. Some people have the ‘you can’t take it with you’ attitude, and others are very conservative and never splurge on themselves or others; it is important to recognize where you fall in that spectrum and what the consequences of that attitude will be. Being financially literate is about more than understanding compound interest and different investment vehicles.

You can learn more about Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy here.