Patty and Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship Fund
In 1998, Melvin and Patty Alperin established a fund earmarked for college expenses for high school seniors whose parents did not have a college degree. “We thought that the first generation to go to college is very important in determining long-term success within a family.” And thus was created our Patty and Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship Fund.
“My collaboration with the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the best things that ever happened to me,” says Mel. “I knew how to raise money but not how to give it away.” As a board member for 11 years including four as chairman, Mel had a reputation for making sure that all voices at the table were heard. “It’s the only way to get varied opinions. If you listen to everybody, you build a good organization.”
Carol Golden, our Senior Philanthropic Advisor, worked under Mel’s leadership during his time on the board. “I witnessed first-hand the depth of his caring about those in our community who are less fortunate. Mel and Patty embrace this scholarship as a small way they and their family can make a difference in Rhode Island. It is a pure form of giving back that truly comes from the heart.”
The students touched by the Alperins represent the diverse population of our state, and, over the past 15 years, some 50 to 60 families have benefited from their generosity. “There are people living on so little income – even our scholarship doesn’t help enough.” But if it helps them buy books or enables the student to work less during the school year, then it has been worthwhile. The scholarship is renewable each year over the course of a student’s college career.
“My father taught me: To be part of a community, you need to participate in that community.” And that is what drives Patty and Mel’s philanthropy.
“This has been very good for our family,” says Mel. His daughter and daughter-in-law both serve on the scholarship selection committee. “They are learning first-hand the importance of participating in one’s community.
“We hope that we inspire others to give. And we hope that scholarship recipients will know that somebody cared about them, that they will ultimately give back to the community in whatever way they can.”