February 14, 2012
Since Matthew Schoenfeld ’12 became president of the Harvard Association for Law and Business last year, it has attracted an impressive array of alumni mentors for students interested in business-related careers. This year, he launched an initiative to raise funds to mentor another group—abused children.
This January, Schoenfeld arranged for a partnership between the HALB and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, to raise money for children in need of mentorship due to abusive situations and child welfare intervention.
This collaboration marks the addition of a philanthropic component for the student organization, and it is a cause that is particularly close to Schoenfeld’s heart. He experienced abuse as a child during his parents’ divorce, which necessitated the intervention of New York’s Child Welfare Administration, as he told other HLS students in an e-mail appeal.
Schoenfeld was lucky, he wrote, “benefitting from a gutsy court decision and a good father, who turned his life around.” And although up until now he hasn’t shared his story widely, by doing so he hopes not only to raise funds but also to send a hopeful message to children who might be in a similar situation: “You can’t control where you start, but you can control where you finish.”
Schoenfeld graduated from Columbia in 2008 where he was president of his class. He worked in a hedge fund in New York City for a year, and mentored children in the Bronx along the way. He said he kept thinking that eventually he would make a lot of money and then he would use it to do good. But he decided it wasn’t going to work that way: “I wanted to make a difference now.”
His target for the fundraiser is $50,000. So far, HALB has raised more than $11,000.
In addition to serving as president of HALB and senior editor of the Harvard Business Law Review, Schoenfeld works as a research assistant for Harvard Professor Lawrence Summers, former secretary of the Treasury and formerly president of Harvard University. Schoenfeld focuses on speech preparation for Secretary Summers, and staffs him on international engagements.
“Matt Schoenfeld combines great ability and a prodigious work ethic with deep social commitment,” said Summers. “His approach to law and business harks back to an era when the idea of a profession meant something much more than a lucrative job.”
HLS Dean Martha Minow praised Schoenfeld’s leadership of an organization which “takes its obligations to its students and to the wider community seriously.”
To donate to the fund, go to the Big Brother Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay website.
HALB also has partnered with Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Boston to raise money for children facing adversity and in need of mentorship. To donate, visit the Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Boston website.