In 1958, Fradkin pursued his idea of helping give children access to a college education when he founded Dollars for Scholars. The program encouraged everyone in his community to give just one dollar to an educational fund, which would be enough to help nearly every student in the community attend college. Nearly 60 years later, that idea has grown into the nation's largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship and educational support organization – Scholarship America, which has distributed more than $3 billion to two million students across the country through various programs.
Born in Chelsea, Mass., Fradkin graduated from the New England College of Optometry in 1943 and went on to open his own practice in Fall River, Mass., where he still resides today with his wife of over 60 years, Charlotte.
It was during those early years Fradkin realized the epidemic developing in his community. When speaking with local high school students during their eye exams, many of them said they were planning on dropping out of school so they could get a job to help support their families. “They simply had no idea that there was more out there for them,” Fradkin once recalled during an interview. “I became an optometrist because I wanted everyone to see … I was able to develop a gift because of a college education. I wanted the same for these kids.”
By 1960, Fradkin had started 11 Dollars for Scholars chapters in New England and in 1961, Scholarship America was officially established. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.
In 2010, Fradkin won the National College Access Network’s (NCAN) Champion of College Access award, which recognizes an individual, organization, or corporation who has made remarkable contributions to "Changing the Face of Education." He was also a finalist for the 2012 Schow-Donnelly Citizen Service Before Self Honor.
Braden Books published his memoir in 1993. To view a touching tribute and interview with Fradkin on the Katie Couric Show this past October, visit here.