Photo by Sandy Frank

Luck and a second chance made all the difference for Blair Frank. Now, he’s paying it forward.

“I came from what you would call a ‘fractured family,’” Frank shared. “I was an emancipated minor in high school.

So, I was living on my own, and I probably wouldn’t have gone to college if it wasn’t for the principal of my high school.”Dr. Robert Dunn—his principal in Hartford, Conn.—helped Frank get into Bates College, his alma mater. “I’ve always considered that sort of a second chance and an opportunity.”

He made the most of that opportunity, earning a bachelor’s degree in history, an MBA in finance from Northwestern University and beginning a career in the investment business that spans 24 years.

“In my career in investments, I’ve seen a lot of successful people,” he said. “In most of their lives, there’s been a bit of luck and some hard work. I have always thought I was lucky to have met the principal of my high school and to have gotten his help. I took that opportunity that he gave me, and I worked hard. It was a bridge for me to go on to graduate school and into my career.”

Frank sees Berea College as a bridge to higher education that provides that chance to other deserving young persons. He first learned of Berea while researching colleges that provide access to first-generation students. For the fall 2018 semester, 58 percent of Berea’s new students were first-generation.

If they use that [opportunity] to work hard, Berea can be a bridge for them, for their families and for the communities where they will live.

“When I look at Berea, it’s a special place,” Frank said. “Obviously, the Tuition Promise Scholarship and the commitment to full access is unique. Every kid who gets into Berea is a lucky kid, and they are being given an opportunity. If they use that [opportunity] to work hard, Berea can be a bridge for them, for their families and for the communities where they will live. That’s sort of the connection between me and Berea.”

Frank is interested in supporting Berea’s international students.

“I really think the international kids bring something important to the school,” he said. “For a school of its size, I think the diversity of Berea is incredible.”

International students are not eligible for federal grants and loans available to domestic students. Frank is interested in helping the College fund the gap for international students.

“My focus on philanthropy is on access to opportunity, access to education—particularly college—because it can be a bridge to something else, which it was for me,” Frank said. “I give to a number of educational institutions and organizations that help students get to college, but I feel really good about every dollar I give to Berea.”

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