Steve Malter and I had the privilege of spending a day with an amazing Olin alumnus, Mort Fleischer, BSBA 1958, and his delightful wife Donna. Mort is an inspiration to me and Olin is very fortunate to count him as one of our own!
An experienced financier, entrepreneur and real estate investor, Mort is a founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of STORE Capital (NYSE: STOR), one of the largest, and fastest growing net-lease Real Estate Investment Trusts in the US. Over four decades, he has formed and managed more than 20 real estate companies, taking three of them public onto the New York Stock Exchange. His companies have successfully invested over $13 billion in single-tenant commercial real estate projects since 1981.
More importantly, Mort and Donna are using their means to make a difference in the lives of young people through their Fleischer Scholars Programs at Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. These week-long summer programs for rising high school seniors are free to participants, and designed for economically disadvantaged high school students interested in pursuing business careers. Students selected for the program benefit from a multitude of resources as they learn the necessary skills for success in college and beyond.
In his forthcoming book, Building Your Mental Balance Sheet, Mort writes:
“The inspiration came to me while I was on the campus of Washington University (my alma mater) in St. Louis, Missouri. High up in one of the university’s buildings, as I looked out toward East St. Louis, Illinois, which is actually one of the most poverty stricken cities in the United States, I realized that there had to be a lot of smart and talented students out there, who “didn’t know what they didn’t know.” I believed that if they were provided the right opportunities—like a college education—they could become responsible, productive citizens and make major contributions to the world that would otherwise go unrealized. “We will never fully achieve the American dream unless our society creates ways to bring the socially and economically disadvantaged people of this nation into the mainstream. I’ve come to understand that this wasn’t going to just happen on its own, in a society as complex as ours, nor did I believe that it could be accomplished by the American government’s welfare system. So I set out on my own to assist in bringing the American Dream within the grasp of capable young people…
“In America, your future is not determined by your past or your present circumstances. Your future is determined by you, and it starts now.”
Thanks, Mort and Donna, for inspiring Steve and me with your vision and your care for others, and for your desire to make a long-lasting impact upon American society.