Daniel Lewis is a college senior who has a lot to look forward to when he graduates from University of Florida, Gainesville in April. Yes, he’ll do some traveling with friends after finishing his degree in Sports Management and a minor in Business Administration. Yes, he’s got a job lined up in Florida. And yes, grad school might eventually be on the horizon. 

But what really lights Daniel Lewis up is philanthropy. While in college, he participated in Semester at Sea, a study abroad program on a ship, emphasizing global comparative studies. It took him to exciting and exotic places, notably Kenya, where Dan briefly taught at The Gift School. “The school is an amazing place, founded by a Swiss Christian nonprofit, that serves 500 students orphaned by losing parents to HIV. Most of the students come from a notorious Nairobi area known as the ‘Bangladesh Slum’. Being accepted to The Gift School is a privilege and they know they are lucky to be here. It’s literally their ticket out of poverty,” he explained. 

Inspired by his time in Kenya, Daniel and some friends launched a GoFundMe campaign to benefit The Gift School, along with a Kenyan girls’ home also serving HIV orphans. They successfully raised $3,000, which inspired Dan to pursue even more philanthropic and nonprofit dreams.  

In 2020 while working at a summer camp, Daniel became very close to his co-counselor in training, a young man with mental health issues who couldn’t afford treatment and ultimately took his own life. It was devastating to me. He was such a great kid, always volunteering at food banks and dropping off pizzas to homeless families on holidays. I know other kids who have suffered from mental illness and couldn’t afford counseling. I’m actually thinking of getting graduate degree in psychology and creating a nonprofit in Atlanta for young people that can help subsidize psychotherapy.” 

These are remarkable goals for a young man just starting out, but as he says, “The impulse to give back is strong in me, and it’s very Jewish. It comes from going to The Epstein School, it comes from the example set by my parents and grandparents. It comes from the injustice and inequality that I see.” 

“I have had a very fortunate life so far,” Daniel says. “Now it’s my generation’s turn. I’m hopeful, but it’s a scary time to be alive. The trip to Kenya grounded me and reminded me that people with so little can do so much with the things we take for granted. It’s easy to forget that, but that’s what I want to live by.”  

Along with his cousins, Daniel is the beneficiary of his own donor-advised fund at Atlanta Jewish Foundation. It was a gift from his grandmother, Cathy Selig Kuranoff, who wanted to empower all of her grandchildren to make their own philanthropic decisions and support the causes they care about. By all accounts, that’s exactly what her grandson Daniel is doing.   

Contact Madelaine Tesori at Atlanta Jewish Foundation about opening a donor-advised fund for yourself, or for a child or grandchild. It’s a brilliant tool for becoming a philanthropic change maker.