Last week, my travels took me to SouthCoast Marketplace in Fall River, and as I drove down William S. Canning Boulevard, I spotted a tiny sign that read, “Fall River, The Scholarship City Welcomes You.”

The Scholarship City? I thought Fall River was the “We’ll Try” city or "Spindle City."

It turns out, "the Scholarship City" originated in 1958 thanks to a local optometrist with an inspiring dream.

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Who Is Dr. Irving Fradkin?

In 1958, an optometrist named Dr. Irvin Fradkin founded a program called Dollars for Scholars in Fall River. It was a community effort to provide scholarships for students to continue their education beyond high school.

“The original idea is 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 who wanted to continue education after high school,” said the program’s official website.

What Is Dollars for Scholars?

Today, CSF of Fall River Dollars for Scholars is an all-volunteer organization in Fall River that provides grants and scholarships to advance post-secondary educational opportunities for students. The program is completely funded through gifts received by the program.

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How Fall River Became ‘The Scholarship City’

Scholarship America is the nation’s largest nonprofit scholarship and education support organization and it directly grew from the vision of Fradkin, who was a lifelong champion of affordable education until he died in 2016.

Fradkin never got rich off his idea, nor did he want to, but late in life he got some national recognition for his efforts. Katie Couric invited him to write the forward for her book, "The Best Advice I Ever Got." Fradkin also made two appearances on Couric's daytime talk show. Well into his 90s, he was excited to empower more people to make a difference in their communities as he had done in Fall River.

Today, the national program known as Scholarship America has provided over $3 billion to more than 2 million students.

The program’s first chapter is still hard at work in Fall River, lovingly called "the Scholarship City” because of its role in America’s scholarship history.

If you ask me, "Scholarship City" has a much better ring to it than "We'll Try."

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