David Caplan was a man of many accomplishments. In business, as in his personal life, he was extremely successful.
For 50 years he worked in the textile and apparel industry, rising to become head of Evan Picone Sportswear and HeadSport and Metro Fabrics. But in 2002, at the age of 77, he changed his path to pursue his deepest passion, devoting his knowledge and energy to public service on behalf of children and their education.
With five children of his own and six grandchildren, David had a personal stake in developing the potential of young people, all young people, whom he understood are the future leaders of the world. So when City Year came calling, David was a natural fit, serving on the Board and then assuming the position of Dean.
“Our biggest mission,” said Caplan, “ is to do what we can to eliminate the drop out crisis.”
Every year, more than a million American students drop out of schools. For more than 25 years, City Year has been working to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need to achieve academic success, and what their schools can provide. And it does that by harnessing one of the most powerful forces for positive change in the world today—young people.
Every year, nearly 3,000 young people between the ages of 17 and 24, join City Year and dedicate 11 months to making a lasting impact on students and communities across the country. Currently, City Year operates in 28 cities throughout the U.S. and in two international locations: South Africa and the UK.
Team members, visible in their red jackets, work closely with students in third through ninth grade who are at the greatest risk of dropping out, providing them with the extra academic, emotional and social support they need to overcome the challenges they face, both in and out of school.
Corps members are a carefully selected, highly-trained group of young adults who are giving their time and energy while also learning important life skills themselves, such as how to collaborate with a diverse group of colleagues, how to multitask without sacrificing quality, how to solve problems through critical and constructive thinking and how to lead through inspiration and encouragement without confrontation.
David Caplan believed that these are the kind of skills needed to succeed in any profession corps members choose after completing City Year.
Well into his 80s, David was a workaholic for City Year, devoting many hours a week helping carry out its mission. In fact, he loved telling the story of his wife, Barbara, asking, “Was the biggest thrill of your life when we got married?”
“I say, ‘No dear, the biggest thrill of my life was when City Year honored me with a red jacket.’”
David and Barbara Caplan were married for 63 years until his death in 2015 at the age of 90. Hearts on Fire is deeply grateful to Visionary David Caplan for his work with City Year and honors a life lived with generosity and humanitarianism.