About the Founder

Why you can trust us

Trust is always a problem for an unknown or little known new charitable organization. How could you trust on a new organization? I understand that . So I will introduce myself and briefly describe why I founded this charitable organization `Hometown Education Foundation’(HEF), and hope that you will find that the HEF is a very worthy foundation for your support and can be trusted with your donation to financially support the students from elementary to high schools in my hometown to continue their basic education and to become more productive and knowledgeable individuals. In the long run, we will earn your trust by the work we do and open our financial book for your scrutiny.

I, Dr. Tonghai Yang (please check HERE for a blog by my friend and a former classmate Dr. Jiang Xun about me and this charity in 2013), am a professor at the Department of Mathematics, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I have a happy family with my lovely wife and two healthy and cute kids, and live a good life in Madison, Wisconsin of the United States. I work hard and consider myself a decent and serious mathematician and a very good teacher (see my math web page). I have written over 30 research papers published in Mathematics research journals. I have been invited to give professional talks in universities, institutes, and conferences over the world, including China, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, The United Kingdom, and the United States.

I was born in Bao Mei Village, Ningguo County, Anhui Province, China in 1963. During my middle school and high school years (1974-78), I had to walk 6 miles twice a week (once a week during the winter) to school and stay in school during weekdays. I had to bring with me food to eat and some other stuff to sell in the town to get a little money. That was normal in that era, nothing to complaint about. Unfortunately, some of the poorest students now still have to do the same everyday (since staying in school costs money too while it used to be free), although most go to school by bus or bike. That was sad.

In 1978, I was admitted to Huizhou Teacher’s Academy (a 2 year community college for middle school teachers) by passing the 2nd national exams since the Cultural Revolution, a year ahead of graduation. Although it was not perfect, I could not wait to take this opportunity to leave the countryside to get a better life. After graduating from the college in 1980, I went to Ban Qiao Middle school in a neighboring county---Jin De County (not my choice). Half a year later, by luck and persuasion, I was transferred to Hong Men Middle School in Ningguo (my home county), although it was a very rural area about 50 miles from the capital of Ningguo (a very long distance when you don’t have a car and very poor public transportation). After another a semester, I was transferred to Shan Men Middle School, where I taught until I went to graduate school in Anhui Normal University in 1984. Please see some pictures I took in the summer of 2002. Shan Men Middle School is a better off middle school in my home county.

In 1984, I was admitted to the graduate program in Anhui Normal University, studying algebra under supervision of Professor Huaiding Tang, and my mathematical life starts. In 1987, I graduated with a MS degree in Mathematics and became an assistant professor at the University of Science and Technology of China. In January 1991, I went to the University of Maryland at College Park (with a borrowed $100 in the pocket) for my graduate study. I got my PhD degree under the supervision of Professor Stephen Kudla in 1995 and went to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for a one-year membership. after that, I went to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as a Hilderbrandt Research Assistant Professor. In 1998, I became a tenure track assistance professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1999, I visited the Harvard University as a Centennial Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Since 2000, I have been a faculty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I visited the Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn Germany for three summers. I also visited a lot of other math institutes around the world, including the MSRI at Berkerley, The Morningside Center of Mathematics at Beijing, Tsinghua University (Qian Ren), the Newton Math. Institute in Cambridge University of England, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kyoto University in Japan, and The National Theoretical Center of Science in Taiwan. Please see my math web page for more detail on my professional life. Here is an article on me 2010 by Dr. Xun Jiang. Thanks to the outstanding work of our volunteers at our partner Ningguo City Zhong Mei Ai Xin and trust and support of hundreds of donors, I was voted to Feb. 2015 中国好人榜

Now why did I found the small charitable organization Hometown Education Foundation?

The story started when I went back to China to visit my family during the summer of 2000 after a long ten year absence. I was very positively surprised by the development in China and in my hometown. I could not even recognize the Ningguo city which is much bigger than before and clearly much more prosperous. People are generally much richer than before. One of my brothers has his own small business in the Ningguo city, and my mother and older brothers and sisters have moved to the city. So did a lot of other people in my village for a better life. The village did not change much itself although there is a private bus running between the village and the city, which is very nice. Even villagers who stayed in the village went out and found some way to make money when the farm work was not busy. People were in general in better shape than ten years earlier.

However, at a dinner party, one of former colleagues told me a sad and moving story. The father of a high school student in Ningguo High School had to sell blood monthly to support his education since the mother was sick and the father did not have a good skill to support his family. I was sickened by the story and tried to help. Luckily, we found out that a local banker had offered to sponsor him for the rest of his high school study. He would provide his tuition and enough money for his basic need for the remaining two years. But the story stuck in my mind. I went back in 2002 and heard another moving story. A farmer was behind in his farm tax payment for 2 years. Two tax officials went down to the village to demand payment (this farm tax is in the form of certain amount of rice). When they showed up they found that both the farmer and his wife had been disabled. They did not know what to say. The farmer was quite poor, however he did have barely enough rice for the necessary payment. Their son, a six grader, overheard the conversation, and bravely came out and told the tax collectors that he would take the rice to the station, and he would quit his school from now on to support his family. The tax collectors were moved and went back to talk about it with their colleagues, and they together decided to sponsor this kid for his education. My younger brother is right now sponsoring a girl whose mother is sick.

These are happy stories, at least with a happy ending for the kids. Others are not so lucky and need your help (see Students for a sample of needy students). Currently there is no institutional program to support these needy young kids. There is no government program in my home county helping the poor kids, and there is no charitable organization either. One problem is that we don't have such a tradition in charity as in the United States. People are not accustomed to contributing to charitable organizations, and are generally suspicious of organization. We may blame the government and others, but kids could not wait. That is why I started this charitable organization, and hope to get your support to financially help these young kids to get their very basic elementary and middle school education we all take for granted, and their basic high school education if they are academically strong enough to get admitted to high school (a highly non-trivial achievement for a poor countryside kid). On a personal level, I feel that these poor kids could have been me, my kids, or my students if I were still in my village. Unfortunate things happen to people without a reason sometimes.

Please trust me that I and other volunteers will use all your donation directly to the needy students this charity sets up to help. I will personally cover all the overhead. A mere 50 dollars can help a kid (literally a kid) to continue his/her elementary for a whole year.

Please make your donation by writing a check payable to The Hometown Education Foundation (HEF), and send it to

Hometown Education Foundation
c/o Tonghai Yang
9 W. Geneva Cir.
Madison, WI 53717

or simply use PayPal/Credit Card(left) to make an online donation (very simple). We will update the donor list on the web periodically (together with donation amount) to show our appreciation of your generous help and the openness of the process. If you prefer to keep your donation anonymous, please let us know. We will keep it that way.

If you prefer personal contact, we can make arrangements for you to sponsor one or more students. We hope this will bring you even more personal satisfaction by seeing, first hand, how much of a difference your contribution makes. It costs you

$80 to sponsor an elementary school student for a year,

$100 to sponsor a middle school student for a year, and

$200 to sponsor a high school student for a year.

$200-800 to sponsor a college students for a year---your choice.

Here is how it works. You choose one (or more) needy student to sponsor for a year or more, and send the donation to HEF. We will give the money to the sponsored student and inform him/her of your support. We will report his/her progress to you. If you like, you are more than welcome to be in direct contact with him/her.

Again your help is greatly appreciated and will make a huge impact on the needy young lives. If you have any question, please feel free to contact me at thyang@math.wisc.edu or (608) 263-4219.

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