Nick Jaeger, a 17-year-old senior at Woodside Priory and a resident of Portola Valley, says he has never personally experienced domestic violence. The issue arose for him as a freshman at the Priory doing community service work in connection with a theology class. He was moved, he says, by the plight of a boy and his sister at a shelter for victims of domestic violence
He says he recognized how significant his relationship with his parents was in contributing to his happiness and success. "It terrified me that for some, these relationships that I had always taken for granted were so painful."
Nick created "Another Door Opens Fund," which has accumulated about $85,000 for the nonprofit CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse). CORA provides domestic violence prevention services in San Mateo County, including a 24-hour hotline, counseling, and emergency and transitional housing for domestic violence survivors.
Thirty to 40 donors contributed, including peers, parents, friends, family and people he met working as a protege of two financial investment professionals. Donations ranged from $20 to $10,000, he says.
In recognition of his efforts, Nick was honored with a 2014 Changemaker Inspiration Award from Breakthrough New York, and more recently as a distinguished finalist in the 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
In discussing with CORA's executive director how he could make a difference, Nick says he concluded that the issue doesn't have a high enough profile. "There is still a culture of victim blaming, which stems from a lack of awareness," he says.
So far, his advocacy has had a local focus, but Nick says he has begun research with a collaborator in the economics department at Harvard University, and says he plans to publish economic arguments in support of shelter funding that can help raise money nationwide.
Nick says he's in the process of choosing a college and that he expects to major in economics and find work as an academic economist.