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Age: 53
Hometown: St. Louis
Cause: Financial aid to low-income students

Started in 1920 as a program offering financial assistance to poor Jewish residents, the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis is a resource for low-income students seeking higher education. Expanded to include all applicants without regard to religion, the nonprofit’s interest-free, no-fee loan program — started with just a $15 loan to a young immigrant woman — has flourished over the past 25 years under the direction of executive director Faith Sandler. Spearheading fresh outreach efforts to increase its local donors to 70 partners — up from four in 1989 — Sandler has seen annual funding more than double on an inflation-adjusted basis, with $3.6 million supporting over 600 students in 2013.

Says Sandler: