Irving Fradkin

Irving Fradkin, 91

On a crusade since: 1958

Day job: Retired optometrist, president emeritus of Scholarship America

Achievement: Founded grass-roots education-funding organization

Why he's a hero: Disturbed that so many of his teenage patients told him they couldn't afford college, Fradkin decided the problem could be solved if everyone in Fall River, his Massachusetts city, put a dollar into a tuition fund. The idea took off, and in 1961 it went national. Over five decades, Scholarship America has awarded more than $2.7 billion through 1,042 chapters in 38 states.

Quote: "People give because the money stays in the community. It changes the community."

- Last updated September 03 2012 07:44 PM ET
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