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Philanthropic Hero Biography

Detroit, Michigan

Raised by parents who taught him to work hard, live simply and save money, Matel Dawson has spent his whole 59-year career at Ford Motor Company building wealth to share. By following his parents' advice, this 78-year old forklift operator worked overtime and invested his money, allowing him to give away more than $1 million over the past eight years.

One of the many things Matel's money is used for is to help students do what he could not - complete an education. At Wayne State University in Detroit his Mat Dawson Jr. Endowed Scholarship provides full four year tuition to deserving students, regardless of race, gender or religion. Handing out the scholarships personally is his way to "meet the kids, follow their progress and know who they are." Other recipients of Matel's philanthropy are the United Negro College Fund ($230,000), Louisiana State University ($200,000) and the NAACP ($150,000).

Matel recently said, "I've owned big homes and big cars and that don't excite me no more. I just want people to say that I tried to help somebody."

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