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Tremendous Response to Promise Fund

January 18th, 2008

In our first semester of operation at Yale, we funded over 60 grants to Yale sophomores. Within only 4 days of the second semester, we have already received over 55 applications. Click here to read what students said about the opportunity the Promise Fund gave them.

FOOT Leaders Pay Tribute to Alex with Fundraiser

November 13th, 2007

In early October 2007, 9 Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trip (FOOT) leaders organized a fundraiser in Washington, VT. Students Greg Lipstein, Willy Cass, John Mittermeir, Bevan Dowd, Ross Kennedy-Shaffer, Laura Chandhok, Mackenzie Wehner, Diana Mosca, and Gideon Bradburd spent the day painting a barn on Cilla Kellert’s farm and raised over $1000 for ACF.

Cilla writes, “We completed our goal with lots of laughs and good energy. The weather was beautiful and we were able to end our day with a walk up to the top of our hill that has a panoramic view of the Green Mountains to watch the sunset… We made a toast to Alex and his spirit was very much with us. As you know, these students were classmates of Alex and miss him the most.”

Yale Daily News Highlights Launch of The Promise Fund

September 24th, 2007

Capelluto fund aids Elis

By Kimberly Chow, Yale Daily News, September 24, 2007. Read the article on the Yale Daily News online.

Today, the first 30 checks from the Alexander Capelluto Foundation Promise Fund are en route to scholarship recipients, who will soon be able to use this money to expand their academic options and lighten their financial burdens.

The Foundation was begun after the death of Alex Capelluto ’08 in a bicycle accident in West Haven, Conn., during the summer of 2006. Its goal is to honor Capelluto’s memory by enriching the academic experiences of students at his two alma maters — Horace Mann School in Riverdale, N.Y., and Yale, with an eye to expanding to other institutions, starting with Amherst College.

The Promise Fund aims to provide Elis on financial aid with money for academic materials that their aid packages do not cover, such as textbooks, supplies, computers and musical instruments. Grants of up to $500 are being given to all eligible applicants from the class of 2010 over the course of the year, and members of the Capelluto family said they expect other classes will also be eligible in future years. At Horace Mann, the Alexander Capelluto Award encourages high school juniors to engage in their communities by granting $2,500 to implement innovative service project ideas.

Capelluto’s parents and older sister worked with the Yale College Dean’s Office and the financial aid office to design the Fund and determine the requirements for scholarship eligibility. Since sophomores receiving financial aid were contacted on Sept. 14, the Foundation has received more than 55 applications, said Capelluto’s father Jacques. The scholarship’s turnaround time is short in order to ensure that students can buy necessary supplies as soon as possible, he said.

“The idea is to help students who might want to take a course that they wouldn’t otherwise take, so we need to respond pretty fast as to whether we will help them or not,” said Jacques Capelluto, who said the Foundation will provide funds to around 80 students in the first round of disbursement. “If we took three weeks to do it, the course would already be halfway done.”

Alex’s sister Katherine Capelluto ’04 said helping students explore classes that they would otherwise not have been able take — such as photography, which necessitates the purchase of a camera and other materials — is exactly what her brother would have wanted the family to do.

“My brother was passionate about Yale and enjoyed his time there so much, so it was an obvious place to start,” Katherine Capelluto said. “It was the least we could do in his honor to continue to have a presence at Yale.”

The Foundation will accept applications throughout the academic year to provide for midterm and spring semester expenses, Katherine Capelluto said. The Capellutos encourage recipients to send them a product of their studies, such as a piece of artwork or an English paper, so that they can engage more personally with the students.

In order to be eligible for the grant, students must fall into a certain financial aid category and submit an application listing the classes they wish to take — for which they must receive a grade — and the supplies they wish to purchase. Instead of reimbursing students for purchases, the Fund will send them a check and ask for receipts in return.

The Fund is limited to sophomores for now in order to test the scholarships on a small population and because sophomores should explore new classes in order to help them choose a major, Jacques Capelluto said. He said it is likely that the Fund will be able to support more students as organizers look to larger foundations and corporations for additional funding.

“As far as we’re concerned, the more people we can help, the better off we all are,” he said.

Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said the Promise Fund fills a need that is not covered by financial aid packages. If a student came to the Financial Office requesting money for an expense like art supplies, the University would provide a loan or increase the self-help portion of the student’s budget, which is earned through work-study, he said.

Storlazzi said Yale has not yet considered using University funds to cover smaller, individualized expenses, although there are funds to provide for students’ travel to and from school.

“Yale does not have a scholarship program for prospective photography majors to buy a camera, for example, just as we don’t have a scholarship program for buying laptops,” he said. “That’s not to say that we shouldn’t or shouldn’t ever consider that.”

Troy Schuler ’09, a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, said he applauds the Capellutos for identifying an important student need and providing Yale administrators with food for thought when considering financial aid reform.

“Hopefully, this will show that this is something that students really care about, and the University will listen and make it a priority to develop better financial aid policies,” he said.

Katherine Capelluto emphasized that her brother — who was hit by a truck while training for the Habitat for Humanity Bike Challenge — lived his life always thinking of others. The Foundation exists to perpetuate Alex’s mission, she said.

“It’s inspired by him and his passion for life and helping other people,” she said.

During his time at Yale, Alex Capelluto was a member of the varsity lightweight crew team, a leader of Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips and an organizer of relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Yale Herald Features Launch of ACF

September 24th, 2007

Memory of student expands Yale financial aid

By Katie Odland, Yale Herald, Sept. 21, 2007. Read the article at the Yale Herald online.

Stationed on the wall, at the top of the brand new, sealed and varnished wooden staircase leading to the Silliman dining hall, an inscription reads: “In memory of Alexander MacBurney Byers Jr., who was graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School in the Class of 1894. This building was erected by his parents 1903.”

Perhaps the predominant impression is that Yale was entirely built by wealthy, living alumni. But memoriam is perhaps a larger, if less obvious, presence on campus. From the J. Willard Gibbs or Osborn Memorial Laboratories to the monolithic Sterling Memorial Library, the power of memory has provided some of Yale’s most noticeable features. This year, it is poised to shape the Yale campus again, but not through any architectural statement. Instead, the Promise Fund, incorporated by the Alexander Capelluto Foundation, in memory of the class of 2008 Berkeleyite who died in the summer of 2006, hopes to change Yale academics by augmenting Yale’s financial aid packages with funding for various supplemental, yet essential, course supplies. The fund will be available for members of the Class of 2010 this year, with future expansions dependent on the fund’s success in the 2007-2008 year.

In seeking to honor Alexander’s alma mater, the Capelluto family immediately looked for ways to directly benefit students’ experience. Alexander’s sister Katherine Capelluto, BK ’04, found herself looking at a school with a robust financial aid package that seemed to neglect what was not dubbed essential. “I had noticed,” she explained, “that financial aid covered all the necessities but stopped at class supplies.” It is a setback that she sees as “a glaring need on campus.” Thus, the Promise Fund’s raison d’etre is to alleviate this need by providing grants for class-related materials not included in typical financial aid packages. These include art supplies, books, and musical instruments. Since the fund’s launch last week by email to Yale’s sophomore class, the fund has “received tons of emails from students just expressing their gratitude for launching [the fund], pinpointing the fact that they would not have taken the class that they can now perhaps take because of the provided funding,” Capelluto said.

Students and professors alike know the expense of learning. Often the price of textbooks and course packets alone will influence a student’s decision on taking a course of interest. Amy Hungerford’s English 431: “American Fiction since 1940: Four Writers,” a class with a notoriously extensive and expensive materials list, is one that some students sometimes shy away from, due simply to the cost. With eighteen novels and a course packet, Hungerford’s class can cost upwards of $400. “People of means don’t often notice the ways that not having enough money can inhibit one’s daily ability to work,” Hungerford said. Similar situations might easily pop up for low-income students in many classes offered by the Art Department. Although art students can borrow a camera from Yale’s Digital Media Center for the Arts, the purchase of film, photo paper, and developing materials–which, over a semester, can cost nearly $500–is not subsidized by the University.

Caesar Storlazzi, the University Director of Student Financial Services and Director of Student Employment, remembers the Capelluto’s hope for the Promise Fund, “to do something that would have a direct and immediate effect on students rather than the standard financial aid [approach].” Storlazzi noted that before the Capelluto’s the financial aid office worked with the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund to provide additional funding to athletes with needs such as equipment; however, there was no counterpart for the arts or for course books. In each financial aid package, a set stipend is included for books and personal expenses. However, Storlazzi explained, “We don’t build into student budgets the expense of [more specialized supplies]. If a student were to come to [the financial aid] office to request additional funding it would be given through a loan–or additional work on campus.” Before the Promise Fund, therefore, students of low income hoping to take a class with a hefty reading list or a less traditional set of materials had to pay for it in additional post-collegiate debt or in extra shifts at a campus job.

Without doubt, the Fund, with, as Storlazzi stated, “its close Yale ties because of the death of Alexander Capelluto and the desire of his parents to do something that would help Yale students and that would be a fitting memorial to their son,” will no doubt be a welcome addition to Yale’s financial recourses. Yet as Hungerford said, if “these grants honor the most basic aspects of being a student–reading and writing, and being free of enough of life’s worries that one can think instead about a poem, problem set, or a place on the other side of the earth,” why were these costs left uncovered before? The administration has no answer; indeed, two years ago, in announcing a marked reduction in the expected contribution of lower-income parents to their children’s education, President Richard Levin, GRD ’74, remarked, “Yale has a strong commitment to the broadest access.” Yet without the tragedy and memory of Alex Capelluto, access to the Yale College Programs of Study might still be inaccessible to a more-than-appreciable few.

Foundation Announces First Alexander Capelluto Award Winner at Horace Mann

September 12th, 2007

On May 1, 2007, the Foundation awarded the first Alexander Capelluto Award to Sloane Heller, a junior at Horace Mann. Through her project, Sloane will be organizing regular visits by a group of students to work and play with the children at a battered women’s shelter in the Bronx.

Sloane writes: “This project focuses simply on bringing joy to children who have precious little to be joyful for……Our events [will] not only allow these children to laugh, play, and generally be children, but also give their mothers some much needed time to relax.”

The award will cover the project’s expenses incurred during the 2007-08 academic year.

The award panel also granted funding to Isaiah Einzig who proposed a project aimed at answering randomly-selected children’s letters to Santa Claus and sending an anonymous Christmas gift to the letter writers.

The Horace Mann Record Reviews Lecture Series

September 12th, 2007

Clinton Aide Stephanopoulos Tells Students of Political Life

By Jon Katiraei, Horace Mann Record, Vol. 104, Issue 32. Check out The Record online.

George Stephanopoulos at HMA former senior political advisor of President Bill Clinton and current ABC News broadcaster described a life in politics and argued that the new electronic media encourages extreme opinions at last Tuesday’s assembly.

The assembly was the first of the Alexander Capelluto Memorial Lecture Series, which will present eminent speakers annually, according to the Alexander Capelluto Foundation website. The organization was established in memory of Alexander Capelluto ’04, who was killed during his sophomore year at Yale University.

George Stephanapoulos, Clinton’s communications director and now the Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News, Stephanopoulos discussed the changing role of the media.

“The Internet completely changed the way we get our information, making news transparent,” he said at the assembly. “It has democratized the media environment when critics say it’s been corporatized.”

There are two downsides to the current role of the media, according to Stephanopoulos. “It allows rumors to spread quickly, and it allows people to seek out information that they already believe,” he said.

Stephanopoulos, who played a crucial role in Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, also expressed his faith in the United States’ political process at the assembly.

“Politics is not just the art of the possible, it’s also the art of the impossible,” he said to the audience. “I do believe that politicians are driven by that same fundamental impulse to improve life.”

Stephanopoulos discussed his personal life, explaining how he sorted through priesthood and law as career possibilities and decided to enter the political scene against his parents’ initial hopes. “Listen to your heart, mind and spirit, and find something that awakens you,” he advised to students.

He worked beside Clinton during the President’s first term, a time he dubbed the best of his life. He admitted, however, that the President’s system “became tangled and distracted in his second term.”

In an interview with The Record, Capelluto’s sister Katherine said that the Foundation chose Stephanopoulos because “he’s a leader in his field, since he’s had a significant impact on policy. He has a broad view of the presidential spectrum.”

George Stephanopoulos Lecture Packs Auditorium

September 12th, 2007

On May 22, 2007, George Stephanopoulos kicked off the much-anticipated Alexander Capelluto Memorial Lecture Series to a packed auditorium of over 500 students and faculty. During the hour-long assembly, Stephanopoulos reminisced about his path to becoming one of President Clinton’s top aides and his transition to news anchor and professor. Stephanopoulos then fielded questions that ranged from the impact of the Internet on today’s politics to his views on the war in Iraq to his predictions for the 2008 Presidential race.
Stephanopoulos’ candor impressed the students, and the admiration was not one-sided. After the lecture wrapped, Stephanopoulos remarked upon the high-level quality of the questions he received from the students and commented on how much he enjoyed himself at Horace Mann.

Alexander Capelluto Award and Memorial Lecture Series Announced at Horace Mann

September 12th, 2007

Keeping Capelluto at Horace Mann

by Matt Joseleff, Horace Mann Record, Vol. 104, Issue 26. Check out The Record online.

Former Valedictorian Alex Capelluto ’04 “believed really strongly that privilege was really not the same as entitlement” his mother, Karen Capelluto said.

A truck killed Alex while he was biking back from crew practice, nearly a year ago. The Capelluto family has established a program in his name, involving a community service grant for juniors as well as a lecture series. The program’s aim is to highlight and encourage Alex’s qualities in the community, his parents said.

“Its very important to us to nominate someone who has some of Alex’s qualities; who is very committed and very passionate about helping the world–who’s a good person who has a lot of integrity,” Mrs. Capelluto said.

“We wanted to honor Alexander in a way that would be important and meaningful at HM, and something that would’ve been important to him and so we came up with the idea of a community service program for juniors,” she continued.

“This is a reflection of Alexander and how he impacted the school. One of his traits was to think beyond the class work and grades and beyond getting into the right college–he was always aware of what was going on around him, and what we hope to achieve through this program is to provide a vehicle for the students of HM to look beyond their immediate environments and attempt in a practical way to improve a community of their choice,” Jacques Capelluto, Alex’s father said.

Along with the community service program, the Capellutos have established a lecture series in Alex’s name, inviting speakers to address the school community annually. The series’ inaugural speaker, George Stephanopoulos, will appear on May 22nd.

“The class of 2006 had a meeting to choose their class gift, and one by one different people stood up and said how Alexander had made a difference in their lives.” Mrs. Capelluto said. “A vast majority of the class voted to honor him by using their class gift to endow this lecture series.”

“Our goal for the Lecture Series is to have it reflect some of Alexander’s principal interests by getting leaders in these fields, such as government, world affairs, music and movies to address HM students, which is why we’re particularly grateful to George Stephanopoulos for agreeing to be the inaugural speaker,” Mr. Capelluto said.

The Capellutos noted the community’s positive response to the inception of the program. “After we announced it to the teachers, many came up to us and said they were so happy because the school was trying to expand the consciousness of the students to be come citizens of the world and that this was the first tangible opportunity to become more aware of the problems in the world,” Mrs. Capelluto said.

“We want this to be very meaningful for the school community,” she said.

George Stephanopoulos to Inaugurate the Alexander Capelluto Memorial Lecture Series at Horace Mann School

April 17th, 2007

George Stephanopoulos, Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News,
host of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, and former Senior
Advisor to President Clinton, will be the inaugural speaker of the
Alexander Capelluto Memorial Lecture Series, on May 1, 2007, at 3:15
p.m. at Horace Mann School, Riverdale, New York.

The Lecture Series — which will feature a distinguished speaker each
year — is endowed by the Horace Mann Class of 2006, which elected to
dedicate its generous graduation gift to the memory of Alexander
Capelluto, the School’s 2004 Valedictorian.

Horace Mann School and the Capelluto family are deeply gratified and
honored to have Mr. Stephanopoulos as the series’ first speaker.

Date:     Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Time:     Will begin promptly at 3:15 p.m.
Location:  Recital Hall (First Floor, Fisher Hall)
Horace Mann School
231 West 246th Street
Riverdale, NY 10471

ACF Fundraiser on March 2 at the Yale Club of NY

February 16th, 2007

The Alexander Capelluto Foundation invites you to spend an evening for a good cause at the first annual ACF Fundraiser

March 2, 2007
9:30pm — 12:30am
Yale Club of New York, Tap Room
50 Vanderbilt Avenue at 44th St.
Please invite your friends! The more the merrier!
Tickets: $60 at the door (cash or check only). Tickets no longer available online.
Festive dress – Yale Club dress code prohibits jeans or sneakers.