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Horace Mann School

The Alexander Capelluto Award

The Foundation believes that a commitment to public service is as important as academic achievement.

At Alexander's alma mater in Riverdale, New York, the Foundation seeks to motivate students to make a difference in their world, with vision, determination and hard work.

Each year, in a competition among sophomores and juniors, the Foundation awards grants of up to $2,500 for projects to be implemented in communities of the students' choice.

The inaugural competition was launched in January 2007. Each year, entrants have submitted widely-diverse projects, as indicated by the roster of award recipients below.


For information on the 2018 Alexander Capelluto Award Competition, please Click Here.



AMRITA ACHARYA and JOANNE WANG for their project to address issues relating to students’ mental health and to make them a more accessible topic within the HM community. It will initially be centered on a program for teachers, to expand their understanding of adolescents’ mental health and their knowledge of how to engage students on such matters.


DEVERAUX MACKEY for an initiative to connect newly-admitted students of color with older students who can guide them as they maneuver through their high school experience. Her program envisions a one-on-one relationship between mentors and mentees, to assist on such matters as tutoring, course selections and navigating the social environment of the school.


JOANNA KUANG and MARISSA PARKS for their project to raise awareness of harmful weight-control practices and associated behaviors. This is a multi-faceted initiative aimed at high-school students, providing for dissemination of instructive materials, discussion forums, and focused education sessions.


Chase Kauder, in recognition of the success of the initiative she co-founded, Celebrate U, which organizes and hosts group birthday parties for underprivileged children, children in homeless shelters, children who have suffered domestic violence, and children who are infirm or disabled..

Arjun Khorana to structure and purchase equipment for a physical-education program targeted at disabled students at the Akshay Pratisham School in New Delhi, India, which serves a severely-underprivileged population and where he has volunteered for several years...


JONATHAN EDELSTEIN and WILLIAM SCHERR for their project, Cancer Circle, a New York-area online support group focused on providing assistance to pediatric cancer patients. It will pair patients with a specific pediatric cancer diagnosis with survivors of that same cancer.  In addition to pairing according to illness, this initiative will seek to ensure that patients and their “buddies” are approximately the same age, have similar interests, and live near each other.


Mei Arditi for her project to create and produce an illustrated Mandarin-English story book to “serve as a source of pleasure and entertainment as well as a source of knowledge and teaching” to young children at the Wuhan Children Welfare Institution in China.

Alex Lein for a series of after-school photography classes at a Bronx community center. The program will explore photography as a medium for expression, examine different approaches, and introduce students to the basics of taking a photograph, with the goal of producing individual portfolios.


OWEN ELRIFI and COLE PARZICK, to create a program within the HM Wrestling team whereby, for every win or pin that a wrestler achieves, a set amount of money will be raised for cancer research, through the Pin Cancer Campaign. They enlisted other Ivy League Preparatory Schools wrestling teams into this project.

WENDY (YOONJUNG) JO and AUSTIN RAHMIN, to add a Music component to the Horace Mann Saturday Morning Tutoring Program, enabling students from the local Bronx community to study music at Horace Mann’s facilities, with HM instruments currently not in use by students or faculty.


JACK DOLGIN for creating a sports video service, filming high school athletes throughout the year. All proceeds from sales of videos will be used to purchase sneakers for low-income student athletes with disabilities who are part of the “Run to Learn” program of Achilles International. Achilles is a charitable organization founded by Horace Mann graduate Dick Traum (‘58), the first amputee to run the NYC Marathon. Achilles has over 65 chapters in the US and abroad.

SAHIL GUPTA for developing a cloud-based application to substantially improve upon speech-synthesizing and text-to-speech options currently available to people with communication and speech disabilities. This application will be presented to speech therapists and medical organizations that provide services for the speech-disabled, and will be downloadable on smartphones and web-browsers.


Rebecca Shaw and Namit Satara for developing an Anti-Bullying Leadership Network which they hope to extend to 75 other schools, and for creating a video featuring interviews and key segments from the first New York Conference on Bullying Prevention, which they have organized, to help them in their goal to raise anti-bullying awareness.


CAROLINE LEVINE for creating a year-long program to help break down communication barriers among autistic children by providing American Sign Language instruction and learning aids to teachers and parents.


Stephen and David Paduano for creating an annual fund-raising interschool basketball tournament and related activities to benefit PeacePlayers International, a global charitable organization which brings together children of divided communities around the world through basketball.

Halle Liebman and Jessica Gartenstein for developing a project to work with autistic children, one-on-one, in a program of weekly visits, along with other volunteers from the HM Autism Disorder Awareness Club.

Rachel Buissereth and Ryan Bliss for implementing a multi-faceted initiative to re-energize and restore Horace Mann’s Saturday Mentoring Program to the scale and vitality of its earlier days.

Tianhao (Harold) Chen for creating a video documentary to raise awareness of the inequities arising from the lack of access by low-income students to graphing calculators, and the consequences of the disparity.


YVONNE CHA for creating a program to expand the understanding of current events for under-served middle-school students in her community in Queens, and for helping to develop their skills in reading, writing, and the use of social media and the internet.


Ambika Acharya for a project to raise interest in science and to make science fun, by introducing young Bronx elementary school students to basic scientific principles through a year-long program of hands-on experiments in physics and chemistry at an after-school Bronx community center.


ADELA KIM for developing a program to bring classical music to cancer, drug-rehabilitation and other in-patients at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan in a series of monthly, hour-long concerts performed by Adela and co-students from the Juilliard School, bringing respite from pain and distress to a great many patients. In addition, a special fund- raising concert raised enough funds to purchase a piano for the hospital, and endow the program so that it can continue for many years to come.


Pamela Mishkin for working with middle-school students to develop a greater awareness of their neighborhood and environment through photography, raising both their technical proficiency and their reportorial skills, and helping them create a visual and written portrait of a Bronx neighborhood, through Project Bronx Aware.

Frances Ikwuazom for developing a dance project at a public school in the Bronx with no arts curriculum, choreographing and teaching movement and dance to elementary school students.


Katie Dubbs for creating and organizing A Cappellooza, a hugely successful a cappella festival at Horace Mann, bringing together many schools in friendly competition. Her goal was to help establish an a cappella program at a Bronx public high school, where access to music education is limited, to help students "get the confidence that singing and performing bring." The festival has become an annual event, with all proceeds going to a Bronx community center.


Lauren Tomasulo for her project to create a multi-borough support group and activity program for deaf and/or blind adolescents, 8 to 13 years old.


Lydia Singerman for developing a ceramics program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Child Life Department for young bone-marrow transplant patients who must remain in strict isolation, teaching them how to sculpt with non-toxic clay, with the intention of providing a little relaxation, attention, and normalcy" to children who have few activities to look forward to”.


Elizabeth Goodstein for working to expand awareness of Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome (WPWS) - a form of cardiac arrhythmia which is often the cause of sudden death in young athletes - under the auspices of the American Heart Association and a leading cardiologist, developing information materials to present to audiences in the New York area to spread understand of WPWS and of what can be done to identify the syndrome.

Jeremy Paduano for developing a "Building for Change" project, seeking to bring together students from the U.S. and the Middle East to build housing in post-Katrina New Orleans, under the aegis of Habitat for Humanity, and, as he is fluent in Arabic, for seeking funds for Habitat by approaching Sovereign Wealth Funds in the Gulf.


SLOANE HELLER for leading students from the Women's Issues Club to visit a battered women's and children's shelter in the Bronx, to work and play with the children through materials and activities not otherwise available, “bringing joy to children who have precious little to be joyful for”, while allowing their mothers some much-needed time to relax. This project is still continuing.

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.”


Isaaih Einzig for “Operation Santa,” bringing in "Dear Santa" letters from families with children aged 5 months to 14 years and, assisted by a great turnout of students, wrapping presents and composing letters from Santa for delivery to these families.