Stephen Paletta

Stephen Paletta

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Even before being chosen as "the biggest giver" on Oprah’s Big Give, the reality TV show on philanthropy, Stephen Paletta decided to dedicate his life to helping others. "A few years ago," he says, "someone challenged me to decide if my life was to be about significance or success."

Biography

Philanthropist and Winner of Oprah’s Big Give
Even before being chosen as "the biggest giver" on Oprah’s Big Give, the reality TV show on philanthropy, Stephen Paletta decided to dedicate his life to helping others. "A few years ago," he says, "someone challenged me to decide if my life was to be about significance or success."

In 2004, he found his answer when he traveled to Rwanda - a trip that changed his life. "For the first time, I was really hands-on and connected to the plight of the poor and the Third World," he says. "The images and the people I got to know would not allow me to just go back to work and worry about making my own money."

As a result, Paletta and his family financially adopted and continue too support ten children in Africa. He also created The International Education Exchange, a nonprofit organization that builds schools and libraries, and trains teachers in Africa.

Since being awarded one million dollars for winning Oprah’s Big Give, Paletta founded a second nonprofit organization, Stephen’s Journey Foundation. Stephen’s Journey is dedicated to shining a light on social entrepreneurs around the world and the organizations they’ve founded and to provide a portal for donors to find effective, accountable grassroots nonprofit groups.
In addition to philanthropy, Paletta is a devoted family man, happily married to his wife Christine. They have three daughters and Paletta’s family is his proudest accomplishment.

Paletta graduated from Cornell University, where he was an All-American lacrosse player and a civil engineering major. After college, Paletta worked in his family's general contracting business before starting his own company in the same industry. He is currently CEO of Renaissance Integrated Solutions, a technology-based company in the pipeline industry. "I have been blessed with a lot of success," Paletta says.

"I knew Oprah's Big Give would inspire others to engage in philanthropy. Through my nonprofit foundations, Education Exchange and Stephen’s Journey I encourage people to join me as I focus on organizations and projects that allow you to help others around the world without ever leaving home."

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