Robert F. Stoico, founder of The Robert F. Stoico / FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation, announced December 5 that the Foundation will make three separate $1 million gifts to: UMASS Dartmouth, Bristol Community College of Fall River, and Roger Williams University of Bristol. The gifts will be used for scholarships and projects within the schools.
Mr. Stoico was the longtime CEO of the former FIRSTFED America Bancorp, Inc. which had its roots in Fall River. Stoico emphasizes that many of his employees were educated locally at the institutions named above and the three million dollar gifts aptly recognize this fact. FIRSTFED was first and foremost a community banking institution; its employees were the fabric of the community.
Says Stoico: "I've been thinking about doing something like this for a long time. Education is power. In this country, a person who is driven to achieve can reach his or her goals because of equality in our system of higher education. We wanted to honor the colleges in our area, while paving the way to a brighter future for our communities' young people through scholarship support. We especially wanted to give back to the local schools that trained so many successful FIRSTFED employees. We hope this grant will help shape the future of our region. I can think of no better investment than in a young person with dreams."
Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack of UMASS Dartmouth said, "On behalf of the 9,000 students of our University, I want to thank Mr. Stoico and the Foundation for its great act of generosity. These funds will be used to transform our grand library reading room into a state-of-the art study area for our students and establish new scholarships that will make the dream of higher education possible for students from our region."
UMass Dartmouth will invest $750,000 of its gift in the physical renovation of the Claire T. Carney Library and establish the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Grand Reading Room. The Grand Reading Room will be a stately, dynamic and spacious two-story room with an ambience that promotes intellectual richness, purpose and inspiration. It will have floor to ceiling windows that will provide spectacular views of the campus in all seasons, and be a place easily changed to accommodate small or large groups of people who are working together.
The university will use $250,000 to establish the Robert F. Stoico/ FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship is for full-time students with a demonstrated financial need who are maintaining a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
President Dr. Jack Sbrega of Bristol Community College said of the gift to his school, "Literally thousands of students will benefit from this incredible investment in Bristol Community College. In a time when a college education is an essential credential and communities desperately need access to the life-changing power of education, The Robert F. Stoico / FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation has stepped forward to put its money where its mission is and to provide resources to give members of our community access to their dreams."
President Roy Nirschel of Roger Williams University said, "Bob Stoico has been a great supporter of higher education in our region and we at Roger Williams University are grateful for his generous commitment. His previous support and that of the Foundation enabled us to strengthen our business and its program in financial literacy for our students and the community. This new commitment will enable us to strengthen another important academic priority that serves the region."
Past recipients of $1 million grants from the Foundation are the Boys and Girls Club of Fall River and St. Anne's Hospital. The mission of the Stoico / FIRSTFED Foundation is to create a lasting legacy for the citizens of our community. For years to come, students from all walks of life will reap the benefits of what Mr. Stoico has sown.