One could say that Alan Fournier, BSET ’83, HON. ’10, took a less-traveled road as his career weaved from Wentworth to multibillion-dollar hedge fund Pennant Capital Management. Today, Fournier and his family are providing opportunities for graduates of Boston Public Schools (BPS) to blaze their own unique paths, beginning with a Wentworth education.
The Fournier Family BPS Graduate Scholarship identifies talented students in Boston Public Schools with high financial need and provides them with assistance to attend Wentworth after state or federal financial aid has been exhausted. To date, six scholarships have been awarded.
“I thought Wentworth was an ideal place to help kids afford college because of the unique nature of what the school provides in terms of its education,” Fournier says. “It’s a practical education that is highly sought after in the job market.”
A Wentworth education has served Fournier well. After graduation, he sold technology systems on Wall Street, establishing relationships along the way that would eventually help him land a position as a broker. He joined New Jersey-based hedge fund Appaloosa Management in the early 1990s and founded Pennant Capital in 2001.
“I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to give back in this way, and help kids who are in somewhat more difficult circumstances than I was as a kid—but not really all that different,” says Fournier, the first member of his family to attend college and receive a four-year degree.
Fournier’s professional journey provided the fabric for a commencement address at Wentworth in 2010. “It was a great opportunity for me to think back to that age and remember how little I knew about what was going to unfold in my career,” he says. “The theme of my talk was that your learning has just started, and you are just scratching the surface of what you are going to learn.”
Fournier is passionate about education. In addition to providing scholarship opportunities for public school students in New Jersey, he is heavily involved in education reform through an organization he co-founded, Better Education for Kids. He has a special interest in inner-city school students, and has worked to create opportunities to help them succeed. “To me, this is the pressing civil rights issue of our generation,” he says of public education in U.S. urban schools. “I’ve been involved in charter schools that are taking these kids and putting them in a proper school setting and seeing tremendous results, and giving them the chance to go to college.”
Last spring and again this fall, Fournier came to Wentworth to meet with Fournier Family Scholars. “I hope that meeting them and telling them the story of my life—where I came from and what I was able to do—is helping them understand that they can do whatever they set their minds to doing,” says Fournier. “Wentworth is giving them a really solid foundation to start that process.”