Pamela Trefler is a beacon to the city of Boston and a role model for the nation. While her experiences range from investment banking to cooking, her passion is the education of underprivileged students. She and her husband, Alan, established the Trefler Foundation in 1997 as an interactive funder to Boston’s public schools and the non-profit organizations that serve them. However, rather than blindly funding projects intended to meet the needs of struggling schools and organizations, Trefler provides networking resources and consulting services as well.
Pamela Trefler works with everyone involved in the educational process – from the superintendent of schools, headmasters, and teachers, to executive directors of non-profits, university chancellors, and local business people. She has incorporated community service as part of the foundation’s mission. Everyone on staff contributes in a hands-on fashion, and even the administrative staff and interns volunteer in schools, as tutors and mentors.
When Dorchester High School (DHS) was at risk of losing its accreditation, Trefler stepped in and worked with the school, local universities, and non-profits to turn the school around. Not only did she initiate the refurbishing of the school as a facility, but she is an integral part of the school’s restructuring movement. Together, she and DHS staff, and all of the school’s partners have created small, learning communities that make the large city school more manageable for the students and staff.
Boston’s district high school students have long suffered from a lack of resources and opportunity. Trefler is working to ensure that each high school student is exposed to quality education and has the opportunity to succeed. By funding a program to aid ninth-grade repeaters, she has given students that are struggling to perform on grade level a chane to succeed. She is also responsible for bringing advanced placement classes in physics and calculus to high school seniors who otherwise would never have had the exposure to challenging course work.
Trefler has given hundreds of Boston students the opportunity to see options in their futures. She has provided them with challenging and competitive educations and the chance to advance to higher learning. Not only has she opened doors for Boston’s teens, but she continuously works to expose other funders to a more innovative style of funding. By serving on the steering committee for the Boston Annenberg Challenge, she has encouraged other funders to take a closer look at their grantees. She challenges them to look at who is being funded and how. She challenges grantees to be self-sustaining; to work with their constituents instead of for them. Not only has she changed the face of the schools she works with, but Pamela Trefler has helped to strengthen the souls of those housed inside the schools’ walls.