Monthly Donor Motivated by Potential of Scholars

Bruce Jones sees donating to Alray Scholars an extension of his life’s work. The longtime counselor and teacher spent decades working for social justice and fighting for equity in education. The students Alray serves are the kinds of kids he cares most about. “Alray identifies the kids who have fallen off and helps them get back,” he says. “That’s a very necessary role for an organization to play.”

Bruce became a sustaining donor in 2015, after reading an article about the founding of the nonprofit by Neil Swidey in the Boston Globe Magazine. Then, he read Neil’s book The Assist, which chronicles the challenges of the Charlestown High basketball team under coach Jack O’Brien “It so resonated with me, given my background,” says Bruce, who grew up in the 1950s in a tough part of California. “The deck is so stacked against the kids who have no cultural capital to know how to play the game.” That affinity motivated Bruce to become a monthly donor to Alray. “It’s painless,” he says. “It’s only $25 per month, and it comes off my credit card.”

Bruce, 72, just retired from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, his alma mater where he worked as an associate director of admissions, based in New England. He lives on the Cape with his wife, Margaret, and has four grown children in other states.

As a college student, he organized civil rights actions, raised money for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and marched in the Poor People’s March. For 37 years, he worked in public schools in California, Connecticut and Massachusetts. He also coached cross country for decades, an experience that made Jack’s coaching in Charlestown resonate even more.

“The closest relationships I’ve had with kids is through coaching,” Bruce says. With one student in Plymouth, Mass. “I looked at his report card and I said, ‘If you keep this up, you could end up in the Ivy Leagues.’ And he said, ‘That sounds great, but I don’t know what this is.’ This kid lived an hour from Harvard. And he ended up at Brown. ”It was the perfect illustration of how talented students can fall through the cracks. “I’ve always been for the underdog,” Bruce says. “Alray is the kind of bootstrap fund that really serves a population which is more needy, and in some ways, more deserving.”