Knox Porter lives by the Proverb, “Without a vision, people perish,” a guiding principle that has kept him motivated to direct his savings to its highest use – philanthropy. Porter devoted his life’s work to education, and his dream is to make that his lasting legacy for generations to come. He spent 39 years in service to others as an educator, including 30 years in public schools in metro Atlanta as well as some teaching assignments globally.
In 2015, Porter established a donor-advised fund and a planned gift at the Community Foundation that placed the cornerstone for his dream. His planned gift will endow two scholarships at Georgia State University. “My fund is sustained by my belief in the power of faith and compounded interest,” Porter said.
After attending a Community Foundation dinner that featured speaker Andy Goodman talking about storytelling, Porter was motivated to write his own story. He traced how his philanthropic interests were informed by vivid memories and experiences throughout his life.
Childhood memories of a devastating tornado that destroyed his family home led to support for Habitat for Humanity, to assist others’ dreams of owning their own homes. The memory of the darkness of that tornado, and the light shed by mercy, motivated him to assist personally. Following Hurricane Katrina, Porter’s journey included five trips to the Gulf Coast to restore housing damaged by that storm.
Friends and loved ones who fought, and sometimes lost, battles with disease motivated participation in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Peers who were passionate about combating poverty and hunger inspired his decision to support World Vision and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. His dedication to giving back never wavered as the chapters of his life story evolved.
At the root of it all, education remained at the forefront of his story. Porter benefitted from grants that assisted his own graduate-level studies at Georgia State, a debt he feels compelled to pay forward to others. Two students each year, one from each of the high schools where he taught, stand to benefit from scholarships his planned gift will endow at the University. “Years in the future there will be a connection between my university and the schools I labored in,” he said.
When choosing words to describe his approach to philanthropy, Porter speaks eloquently of the concept of justice. “Justice is a consistent theme in scripture, literature and throughout civilization, it’s something to be desired and sought after,” he said. He works hard to bring justice to his own sphere of influence, which for Porter manifests itself in bringing opportunity to others. He may never know the beneficiaries of his philanthropy, but the idea that his life’s work will benefit others fulfills the dream of a life lived justly.