The Emanuel Sternberger Educational fund was established in 1925 by Mrs. Bertha S. Sternberger to honor her late husband Emanuel Sternberger, a prominent industrialist, who died in 1924. Mrs. Sternberger believed that such a fund, which would equip young men and women for useful service to their communities, would be the best means of perpetuating her husband's memory. Her initial grant was $100,000 in United Stated bonds to the fund.
Mr. Sternberger came to America as a boy of fourteen, with a $100 stake provided him by his father, a school teacher in Germany. Through hard work, and with a brilliant flair for business, Sternberger built up the largest country store in South Carolina. Later, at the turn of the century, he joined with the Cone family of Greensboro and set up Revolution Cotton Mills in Greensboro, at one time the world's largest cotton flannel plant.
Mr. Sternberger's abilities and efforts extended beyond the business world. He was a warm friendly, generous man, who was a liberal philanthropist dedicated to religious and charitable causes. He also found time to serve as Governor of Rotary in North Carolina and first President of the North Carolina Automobile Club. At the time of his death, one newspaper editor wrote of his passing in these words: "E. Sternberger had the mind of a giant and the heart of a child."
Today, his memory is being perpetuated and honored in a unique way-through an educational fund that has enabled promising North Carolinians to complete their educational training. Mrs. Sternberger, in establishing the Fund, set down guidelines that the money should aid individuals "of any age worthy of help without regard to their sex, race, creed or religious beliefs11 to obtain the advantages of higher education.
The Fund's recipients include men and women who are occupying prominent places in their communities. One such person was Dean Rusk, former Secretary of State and former President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Rusk was given a Sternberger Fund loan in the 1920's which enabled him to continue his education. Rusk's sentiments of the Sternberger Fund can best be summed up in the note he sent to the Trustees: 'I shall be eternally grateful to the Emanuel Sternberger Fund for a student loan made at a time when the continuation of my educational studies was much in doubt. I know of no more constructive public service than such timely and encouraging assistance to young men and women who are struggling to equip themselves with the education they ne'ed to play a more useful role in our democratic society."
Other loan fund "alumni" include a West Point colonel, a syndicated newspaper columnist, an author, and many teachers, physicians, nurses and dentists. The Fund was unique in that all loans were interest free. Loan recipients have ranged in age from 18 to 56 and have studied at institutions scattered throughout North Carolina and the United States.
In 2009, the fund was transferred to the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. It now provides educational scholarships.
The Sternberger Fund provided 3 years of scholarships to Bennett College "Belles" starting in 2015. The current scholarships are targeted to support the educational training of United Way's Family Success Center participants.
The History of the Emanuel Sternberger Educational Fund