Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Generous Gift to Support Scholarships

June 27, 2014

Brandeis students group photo

By David E. Nathan

Longtime benefactor Edward Fein has committed $5 million to support scholarships, one of the largest gifts in the University’s history dedicated to ensuring that Brandeis maintains its core mission to educate the best students without regard to financial need.

Fein’s gift also provides a significant boost to Brandeis’ efforts to attract additional high-achieving students from the West since the scholarships will target students who hail from California, Arizona and Nevada.

“We thank Ed Fein for this generous gift, which permits Brandeis to support our students through scholarship aid, and to continue to expand our recruitment efforts in the West,” Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence said. “This scholarship program will help us further raise the profile of Brandeis in the western United States.”

The gift grew out of a meeting between Lawrence and Fein, a retired Wall Street analyst and stockbroker whose decades-long philanthropic focus has been innovative educational programs and Jewish continuity and engagement. As Fein spoke of his affection for Brandeis and his desire to provide more young people from the West with the opportunity to attend the institution, Lawrence relayed his interest in recruiting more students from the region and in strengthening the University’s financial aid funding.

And so was born the Edward Fein Scholarship Program, a fortuitous byproduct of a donor’s vision and an institution’s mission.

Fein, a Brooklyn native who owns homes in Arizona and Nevada, has generously supported Brandeis for more than a decade. His gifts have provided financial aid for students in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (TYP) and the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He has also supported graduates of Brandeis’ Genesis summer high school program, which combines academics and Jewish studies, who matriculate at the University.

“He’s not a building person,” says Fein’s niece, Amy Klein, who helped introduce her uncle to Brandeis. “He doesn’t care about having his name on a building; he cares about affecting lives by providing students with an education. He also hopes to instill in the kids he supports a feeling that they need to give back when they are in a position to do so.”

Klein and Brandeis Trustee Jon Davis ’75 played the role of philanthropic matchmakers in bringing together Fein and Brandeis. Nearly 15 years ago, while Klein was working for Davis as senior vice president of asset management at the real estate firm The Davis Companies, Fein asked her to explore institutions in the Boston area that he would be interested in supporting. Klein spoke with Davis, who suggested that she look into programs at Brandeis that might be suitable.

In 2002, Fein began supporting TYP, a one-year academic preparation program that provides opportunities for students whose high school coursework did not ready them for the rigors of an elite university. He also served on the TYP/Posse Advisory Council, which worked to develop additional opportunities for disadvantaged students to benefit from the Brandeis educational experience.

Three years later, he established the Edward Fein Hornstein Fellowship, which supported students pursuing Hornstein program graduate degrees in preparation for careers in Jewish communal leadership.

Since 2008, Fein has supported Genesis alumni at Brandeis and also provided scholarships for low-income students to attend Genesis through QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that he supports.

“Every summer, I visit Brandeis to see the Genesis students and call Ed to say, ‘This is a great program! These kids are having a wonderful Jewish experience in a safe environment,’ ” Klein says. “Genesis is like a summer camp with college prep mixed in.”

Thanks to his latest gift to the University, Fein will be supporting Brandeis students on a year-round basis.