Foundation continues to support students, schools
ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — After going back to college at night in the 1960s to become an educator, Alan Shawn Feinstein was teaching sixth grade in Mansfield as a young man when he decided to write a book about personal finance.
“How to Make Your Money Grow” was a hit, reportedly selling tens of thousands of copies and opening the door for Feinstein to start writing a syndicated money column that was read in newspapers around the world.
A financial newsletter and a mail-order business selling collectibles followed, making the Boston native so wealthy he could start the multimillion dollar Feinstein Foundation to spread his philosophy of helping others throughout the region.
“Helping to better the lives of others is the greatest of all achievements” is the slogan of the foundation.
A Rhode Island resident for the past 50 years, Feinstein, 87, at first focused on programs to combat hunger. He then moved on to supporting schools that encourage students to do community service.
The foundation website (www.feinsteinfoundation.org ) states it has contributed $40 million to elementary and middle schools since it was founded in 1993.
Large donations have also gone to area colleges, resulting in programs and buildings being named for Feinstein at Johnson & Wales University, Roger Williams University and Rhode Island College.
Still, the foundation is an unassuming organization run out of Feinstein’s Cranston home.
Often he or his wife personally answers the telephone at the foundation and he visits all the schools involved in the program.
His donations have spread to 170 schools in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, so the individual donations have gotten smaller as the number of schools has increased, he said.
Still, he said he gives away about $1.5 million a year.
Attleboro schools have been a particular favorite of Feinstein and his foundation.
“Your Attleboro schools really share my heart. They have really been responsive. They share my values of youngsters reaching out to help others,” he said.
At Willett Elementary School, for instance, students have conducted food drives, made holiday cards for the elderly and performed random acts of kindness, such as making breakfast for a younger sibling.
In return, the foundation has given students T-shirts and junior scholar cards that give them free admission to zoos and museums.
Grants have also allowed the school to buy Chromebook computers, which are shared among classes.
Willett Principal Jeffrey Cateon said the foundation provided funding that promoted educational opportunities outside of the classroom and made it possible for every grade 4 student to receive a yearbook.
“The generosity of the foundation has allowed us to purchase devices for use in all classrooms,” Cateon said. “The foundation promotes the notion that junior scholars perform good deeds within our community. As Mr. Feinstein would say, ‘All that will matter to us someday, is what we did while we were here to help those who needed us.’”
At Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Assistant Principal Kevin Atkinson said students participate in an annual food drive in conjunction with St. Theresa’s Church and have collected money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“It’s nice because kids get a sense of community pride and civic responsibility,” Atkinson said.
In return, the Feinstein Foundation has donated money to the school for field trips, supplies and, most recently, an iMac, which is a large-screen desktop computer.
Linda McSweeney of Norton first came into contact with the foundation as the principal at Palmer River School in Rehoboth and later Studley Elementary School in Attleboro.
She was so impressed she is now on the board of directors.
McSweeney said she has always admired Feinstein and wanted to get more involved.
“You have a man who has been successful in life and took those resources back to his original passion of helping children,” she said.
The benefit to the children — in addition to the rewards they get — is an awareness of people who need help and how to provide some to them.
“Alan is a humble man. He is all about the children and getting them to do good deeds,” she said.
Information from: The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle, http://www.thesunchronicle.com