After being laid off from a corporate job, many people might use their severance money to pay bills or buy groceries.
Keren Taylor used hers to launch a nonprofit.
"A lot of people were wondering what the hell I was doing," Taylor said.
The former sales executive dipped into her savings and began working 18-hour days to start a creative writing program for at-risk teenagers in Los Angeles.
"Some of our girls face the greatest challenges teens could ever face: violence at home, violence in their community, huge schools with security guards in the parking lot and in the lunchroom," said Taylor, 50. "They need to know that their voice is important. Their stories are important."
In the Los Angeles public schools, nearly one in five students drops out before high school graduation.
In the last 12 years, Taylor's organization, WriteGirl, has helped around 500 girls graduate high school and go on to college.
See more at CNN Heroes.