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Dr. Irving Fradkin, OD ‘43, Founder of Dollars for Scholars, Dies at Age 95

It is with great sadness that New England College of Optometry shares the news of the passing of Dr. Irving Fradkin, OD ’43 at the age of 95. In addition to his contributions as an optometrist, Dr. Fradkin, a Class of 1943 NECO graduate, developed a innovative way to help support higher education. Dr. Fradkin found his roots in community service in 1954 as he began a small scholarship program for his local community of Fall River when he realized how few high school students were going on to college due to limited funds.

Dr. Fradkin believed that if everyone in the community gave just a dollar to an educational fund, it would be enough to help nearly every student in the community to attend college. This idea became the basis for his Dollars for Scholars® program. His groundbreaking work eventually helped to create Scholarship America®, the nation’s largest non-profit, private sector scholarship and educational support organization.

In the past 50 years, over 2 million students have been awarded $3 billion through Scholarship America®. NECO supports four scholarships in Dr. Fradkin’s name, each administered through Scholarship America®.  The students are chosen not only for their excellent grades and OAT scores, but for their work experience and involvement in the community, exemplifying the impact Dr. Fradkin has had on communities throughout the US.

Dr. Fradkin received an honorary degree from New England College of Optometry in 2008. In presenting the award, he was cited as the person who best embodies the College’s commitment to education, patient care, and community service for the under-served.

When Dr. Fradkin visited the College in 2014 to talk to current students, NECO President Clifford Scott introduced Dr. Fradkin and encouraged them to “realize the power one person has to start initiatives.” He encouraged them to “never say no when you have the opportunity” to do something.

Dr. Fradkin embodies this notion of taking and making opportunities. His scholarship program has given over 2 million students the chance to go to college. Dr. Fradkin encouraged the NECO students to “enjoy what you are doing (as optometrists) but go beyond it.” He went on to explain that optometrists are lucky to have a job where they can help other people see and enjoy life. It is up to them to appreciate their role and to create their own opportunities to go beyond and give back.

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About New England College of Optometry

New England College of Optometry, NECO, is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. For over 120 years, the New England College of Optometry has been educating optometrists and leaders in the field. Originally founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences.   Through a vast network of clinical affiliations, our students put patient care first, providing vision care to children, older adults, the homeless, and individuals with disabilities through our mobile eye clinic, satellite clinics in schools, homeless shelters, community health centers, and VA medical centers.

Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications
phone: 617-587-5722