Michael and Lisa Lujan only have one regret about their philanthropy: they wish they had gotten involved sooner.
Lujan was an educator in low-income elementary schools before starting Mentoring Minds. Now that the couple has a profitable business, they are able to give more than they could before, he said.
“Giving what we can to those who are less fortunate is something that has always been in our hearts,” he said.
The Lujans will receive the 2012 Spark Award at the annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon on Thursday. The award recognizes members of the community for giving their time and financial resources as well as encouraging others to do the same.
Along with their own personal philanthropy, which includes serving on the boards of several nonprofits in the community, they’ve also created a way for their employees to get involved in giving back to the community with the company’s “Mentoring MindShare” initiative.
“We wanted a way to involve our employees in philanthropy,” Lujan said.
“It’s been great,” Mrs. Lujan said. “All the employees get really excited about it.”
So far, employees have awarded grants to First Tee of Greater Tyler, Meals On Wheels and Refuge of Light.
“Even after my career in nonprofits, they are two of the most genuine and giving people I’ve ever met,” Cindy Klein, chief strategy officer for Mentoring Minds, said. “They have such an interest in making a difference. They insist success is also about giving back.”
While the Lujan’s philanthropy efforts may be extraordinary to others, it’s something the couple has believed in for as long as they could remember.
“We have simply always felt that you should treat others the way you want to be treated,” Mrs. Lujan said.