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Farber Educational Campus
Meet the Farbers
The education complex is named for Francine and Murray Farber, who support Fresno Unified students through scholarships, arts initiatives and other programs.

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Biography of Francine

Francine was born in Brooklyn, NY. As a child, she was musically gifted and performed professionally on radio, TV and as a soloist with Phil Spitalny’s All-Girl Orchestra on a cross-country tour immediately after graduating from high school. Her performing days ended a few years later. She had moved to Manhattan with her parents at age 10, living there until she and her husband were married just after her 21st birthday. Recently they celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary. They met in college where both worked on the CCNY newspaper, The Campus. Francine became its first woman editor which was historic at that time, and noted in the NY Times, among other publications. Murray became a professional journalist.

Francine was a school psychologist and central office administrator in school districts in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. She also specialized in school public relations and grant writing, retiring in 2001. After coming to Fresno, she became involved in local education matters and served on numerous Fresno Unified and Fresno County Office of Education committees.

After the deaths of their two sons, Michael in 1996 at age 35 and Steven at age 42 in 2001, the Farbers moved to Fresno to live near their daughter Andrea, her husband and their two children. The move also brought them closer to Michael’s daughter who lives in Oakland. She was born a few months after he passed away.

After Steve’s passing, his widow donated a million dollars from his estate to them for a purpose of Francine and Murray’s choice. Still deeply affected by their dual losses, they waited about a decade before deciding to found Steve’s Scholars which provides scholarships of $1,000 for each of the first two years of college to students who graduated from Tehipite Middle School and then graduate from any Fresno public high school. Steve’s Scholars must maintain 95% attendance, at least a 3.0 GPA, complete their A-G courses and perform community service. This six-year program, from grades 7 through 12, has provided first-year scholarships to about 350 students and another 150 or so second-year scholarships. Thanks to a generous donor from the community, they are sponsoring a research project between Fresno Unified and Fresno State to determine the impact of the program on students and their families and what improvements need to be developed.

Their son Michael was an advocate for the homeless and needy. In his memory, the Farbers established children’s libraries at two housing projects in Fresno as well as Mike’s Bikes at Tehipite for children with excellent attendance.

Their daughter and her husband are their prime support system in Fresno where both work in the medical field.

A scholarship program for inner city students, two libraries for children living in low-income housing projects, an original drama based on their social studies curriculum for 6,000 fifth graders in Fresno Unified, and leadership for broadening access to quality early education for Fresno County youngsters are some of the activities in which Francine Farber and her husband, Murray, are a volunteer force in the community.

Francine also served as president of the League of Women Voters for six years from 2007-2013, and again as co-president from 2022-2024. She has been on their Board of Directors for almost two decades and also has edited their monthly newsletter for that long. She continues to serve on the board and as monthly newsletter editor.

She was a director and secretary of the Fresno County Behavioral Health Board, as well as a long-time (11 years) director and secretary of the Board of Reading and Beyond. She is also a frequent contributor of op-ed pieces and letters to the Fresno Bee and played the cello in the Fresno City College String Ensemble for almost 20 years.

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Biography of Murray

When Murray Farber moved to Fresno with his wife Francine 25 years ago. He thought he was leaving behind the most important achievements of his life. In Connecticut, he had been a managing editor of the 100,000 circulation New Haven Register, managing editor for news at a TV station and public relations director for Fairfield University. His resume showed B.A. from City College of New York, M.A. Fairfield University and service in the army. Frequently chosen as a leader, he served as president of two professional associations, three faith-based programs, school student council and community civic organization.

But something happened in Fresno. As Francine and Murray became involved in community activities, they became familiar with sections of the city dealing with poverty and the impact on the school system. In memory of their son, they launched Steve’s Scholars and encouraged students in the class of 2016 at Tehipite Middle School to meet standards in academics and attendance as well as community service – and maintain those levels through high school – to earn college scholarships.  To date, Steve’s Scholars has awarded over $300,000.  In addition, to help raise students’ horizons,  cultural knowledge and career opportunities, Steve’s Scholars has sponsored trips to colleges, museums, live theater, classical  music concerts and environmental projects.

In memory of a second son, the Farbers created special math tutoring for sixth graders at a school that feeds into Tehipite. They also sponsored the development of mini-libraries for comfortable reading and free book distribution for children at two housing authority sites.

With the enthusiastic cooperation of Fresno school administrators and teachers and the financial growth monitored by the Central Valley Community Foundation, the Founders of Steve’s Scholars have been pleased to see local students move on to college and hear them talk about entering medical fields, teaching, technology, the police department and other areas needed for a vibrant community.

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