NH millionaire Bill Binnie offers to pay college tuition for Manchester fifth-graderBy MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 31. 2017 9:43PM
MANCHESTER — New Hampshire millionaire Bill Binnie promised last week to fund a fifth-grader’s college education, after she stuck out as the only one in her Smyth Road School class who didn’t plan to go to college.
Binnie, who also pledged $20,000 for technology upgrades at the school, said he made the promise while giving a pep talk to students about studying hard and having high aspirations. When he asked for a show of hands of college-bound kids, Mollie Noon was the only one who didn’t raise her hand.
“I think she reminded me of me, a little 10-year-old ... who didn’t have many expectations of going to college,” Binnie said. “I hope the best for that little girl. More important, I want her to be ambitious.”
Binnie said he will do whatever he can to get the girl into college, including paying for it.
Binnie grew up in a working class family with no expectation of going to college. He’s since earned two degrees from Harvard and made a fortune in plastics and investment banking.
Last month, he made millions when he pulled the plug on the WBIN-TV station, laid off most of the staff, and sold off broadcasting rights and remaining licensing rights. Binnie maintains a New Hampshire radio network and the NH1 news website.
While appreciative of the offer, Mollie’s mother, Heather Noon, said many children are more deserving than Mollie.
Noon said she’s always expected that Mollie and her sister would attend college. Mollie didn’t raise her hand because her current career plan involves working at Disney, said Noon, a teacher at Londonderry Middle School.
Meanwhile, Smyth Road School principal Jennifer Briggs said the $20,000 donation will be used to purchase Chromebooks and other technology for the school. The school relies on PTO fundraisers to purchase technology, said Noon, who is also the Smyth Road PTO president.
If the PTO can raise $5,000 in a single year, that’s a good year, she said.
“This is a huge gift to us. We are very grateful,” Briggs said. She said Binnie visited Smyth Road School after striking up a conversation with the assistant principal, Rachelle Otero, at a downtown restaurant.
He visited Smyth Road School on March 23 and spoke to the fifth graders.
“They were in awe of his stories about all the cars he owns and the radio stations and TV stations he owns. He told the students that they too can own the car of their dreams if they work hard and do their work,” Briggs said.
Binnie offered to bus them to Concord to see his radio operations. Smyth will be naming its library the Bill Binnie Media Center, Briggs said.
Binnie said he’s still working out the details of the donations. The Manchester school board must officially accept the donation.