David and Linda Stein

Satisfaction comes from making a difference in others’ lives

As a teen flipping burgers on Beach Boulevard 60-some years ago, David Stein had no idea that his name would someday grace prominent buildings in Jacksonville. The David A. Stein Jewish Community Alliance and David A. Stein Campus at the Greenwood School are visible testimonies to the Stein family’s numerous charitable gestures throughout Jacksonville.

Among the city’s most generous philanthropists, David and Linda Stein have donated millions for education, arts, animal welfare and other programs to enhance the quality of life in Northeast Florida.

David maintains that his passion for giving back to the hometown he loves is simple: “I want people to be educated and stay in Jacksonville so they, too, can give back to Jacksonville.”

“We want to support Jacksonville people and give them exposure so they have pride in the city and want to stay and work and live and raise their children here,” Linda added of their hands-on efforts to bolster their contributions.

Actively involved in their philanthropic endeavors, the Steins do much more than write checks. Through their scholarship endowments at the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University, they currently have 30 students who they mentor by engaging them in community projects such as building HabiJax houses, visiting the mayor’s office and exposing them to other opportunities to learn and give back. UNF’s David Stein Business Ethics Endowed Scholarship recipients affectionately call themselves “Steiners” in appreciation of the Steins’ gifts, which include a fellowship fund for graduate school.

“David and Linda not only give so students can be at UNF, they also provide them with experiences that teach life skills and other lessons beyond the classroom,” said Joshua Merchant, Ph.D., vice president for University Development and Alumni Engagement and executive director, UNF Foundation, Inc. “David believes in young people and what they can do for the community. He lights up when he interacts with them.”

To support the mission of a school for learning-challenged students, David established the David A. Stein Greenwood School Endowment. “These children who learn differently have a tough, tough time,” he said. “They need help to grow and dream.”

Through example, he gives hope to all the students who benefit from his generosity. Working his way up through the company, he became a Burger King franchise owner and ran local restaurants for more than four decades before selling them – a lucrative venture that he continues to share with his community.

Linda serves on the board at JU – where she earned a fine arts degree and was a Miss JU – and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and she chairs Jacksonville Humane Society’s capital campaign to build a Humane Care and Education Center. David serves on Mayo’s National Leadership Council. The Steins strongly support the Jacksonville Symphony and donated funds to create the United Way of Northeast Florida’s Stein Fellowship through which young professionals help middle school students stay on track to graduation.

According to David, the most satisfying aspect of his philanthropy is “making a difference in peoples’ lives, whether through scholarships or a community center like the Jewish Community Alliance or the Greenwood School.”