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 2024 Alexander Capelluto Award Competition, please Click Here.


ANYA SEN and EMILY AKBAR for their program to help improve proficiency in Maths and English for 6th-grade students at a school in Barisal, Bangladesh, and prepare students for upcoming state exams. Fifty-seven students enrolled in the daily 90-minute Zoom class, which ran for two weeks during the Bangladeshi school vacation.

ELLEN WANG and MENYA OBIA for a one-week intensive, in-person Introduction to Robotics program to students at Mang’u High School in Kenya. Using kits and related tools purchased in the USA, the program enabled students to build a basic automated and human- operated robot. A future goal of this initiative is to continue mentoring the students online, and establish a long-lasting robotics program linked to Horace Mann.

Ellie CAMPBELL to extend to another hospital in the NY area Crafternoon, a creative-arts therapy initiative for children in hospitals which she founded. Crafternoon distributes craft kits to a broad age range of pediatric patients and is already in use at Mount Sinai Hospital, in conjunction with an interactive arts program led by Ellie on the hospital’s in-house children’s video network.


CAROLINE and CHARLOTTE WILLER-BURCHARDI, for Hack-the-Bronx, an annual Bronx-wide hackathon to promote STEM and coding in the borough, during which participants were challenged to develop new digital ideas to improve the Bronx community.

JOANN YU AND HANZHANG SWEN, for their two-year program to introduce Public Forum Debate to an international school in Beijing and extend it to other such schools in China.


Zachary Kurtz, for an initiative to assist Afghan refugee families settling in Westchester County, NY.


SIMON SCHACKNER for his initiative to enable HM seniors in an English Elective class and a group of incarcerated women students at the Southern Maine Women’s Re-entry Center to meet three times per week in an online class, to study, explore and discuss perspectives on poetry, novels, memoirs and others texts, both modern and foundational.

TAE-KYU LEE for his project to provide SAT/ACT assistance to students in underprivileged neighborhoods in New York City, with on-line tutoring by high-school seniors in weekly sessions tailored to students’ specific needs, with all study materials provided at no charge.


Rachel Fearon and Esha Patel for their program to expose students to urban architecture and its potential to offer solutions to communities’ social and environmental issues.


Because the award was suspended due to COVID in 2020, in a departure from past practice the Foundation recognized Outstanding Achievement by three students who, undeterred by the pandemic, pursued programs to help communities of their choice.

COREY BROOKS (11) co-founded with his brother the Bergen STEM Outreach program, offering to underserved families in their community STEM education in both a three-week summer camp and workshops throughout the year.

RICHARD LIPSEY (11) and SPENCER ROSENBERG (11) ), who sourced, assembled and distributed kits of basic hygiene supplies to students in need at the Kingsbridge International.

Both programs continued in 2021.


Suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.


EDDIE JIN, DANIEL LEE, and HYUNSEO (SIMON) YANG for their initiative to promote recognition and appreciation of military veterans within the walls of Horace Mann, and to reach out beyond HM to organizations that provide assistance to veterans in need, encouraging HM students to be more engaged with a section of the community facing considerable challenges.


MORGAN JOSEPH for creating Camp Empowerment, a one-week summer camp in Harlem which provided to local children tutoring in school subjects, cultural activities (arts and crafts, museum visit), and sports.  Conceived as a community effort at a local church, and staffed by student and adult volunteers, attendance was free.

JEFFREY CHEN, ROHAN BHATIA, and AHAAN PALLA for their project to develop and tutor a Robotics and Coding curriculum for middle-schoolers, initially in the Summer on the Hill program, extending to the Saturday Tutoring program and, eventually, to other Bronx schools.


Rafael Silverman for The Mosaic Mental Health Jazz Project, which brought Horace Mann Jazz Combos, and other student jazz performers from the HM community, to perform in a series of concerts for families enrolled in the Family Support Center at Mosaic Mental Health in Riverdale.


AMRITA ACHARYA and JOANNE WANG for their project to address issues relating to students’ mental health and to make such issues more accessible topics of discussion within the HM community. This initiative centered on a program for teachers, to expand their understanding of adolescents’ mental health issues, and their knowledge of how to engage students on such matters.

DEVERAUX MACKEY for her S.T.E.P.S. initiative to connect middle-school students of color with older students who can help them navigate their high school experience. Her program provides for one-on-one relationships between mentors and mentees, to assist on such matters as tutoring, course selection, and the social environment of the school. With administrative and staff support from HM, this program has become an integral part of the school, and gained broad recognition in New York City and beyond.


JOANNA KUANG and MARISSA PARKS for their project to raise awareness of unhealthful weight-control practices and associated harmful behaviors. This was a multi-faceted initiative targeted at high-school students, providing for dissemination of instructive materials, discussion forums, and focused education sessions embedded in the school’s curriculum.


Chase Kauder, in recognition of the success of an 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 volunteered for several years.


JONATHAN EDELSTEIN and WILLIAM SCHERR to fund a website for their project, Cancer Circle, a New York-area online support group for pediatric cancer patients. This initiative seeks to pair patients, diagnosed with a specific pediatric cancer, with survivors of that same cancer.  In addition, it aims to ensure that patients and their “buddies” are approximately the same age, have similar interests, and live near one another.


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” for 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 sought to explore photography as a medium for expression 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 achieved, a set sum was raised for cancer research, through the Pin Cancer Campaign (a national initiative). They enlisted other Ivy League Preparatory Schools wrestling teams into this project, and raised approximately $30,000 in its inaugural year.

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 instruments currently not in use by students or faculty.


JACK DOLGIN for a sports video service offering high school athletes video of their games through the year. Proceeds from sales of these videos served to purchase sneakers for low-income student athletes with disabilities in the “Run to Learn” program of Achilles International, an organization founded by Horace Mann graduate Dick Traum (‘58), the first amputee to run the NYC Marathon.

SAHIL GUPTA to develop a cloud-based application to improve speech-synthesizing and text-to-speech options for persons with communication and speech disabilities.


Rebecca Shaw and Namit Satara to create a video of the first New York Conference on Bullying Prevention (which they organized), as a tool to spread awareness of bullying generally and of the Anti-Bullying Leadership Network, which they formed and hoped to extend to 75 other schools.


CAROLINE LEVINE for 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 an annual fund-raising basketball tournament (and related activities) to benefit PeacePlayers International, a global Foundation which brings together through basketball children of divided communities around the world.

Halle Liebman and Jessica Gartenstein for a program of weekly visits to work with autistic children (with other volunteers from the HM Autism Disorder Awareness Club).

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

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


YVONNE CHA whose program for under-served middle-school students in her community in Queens sought to improve their reading and writing abilities, and to expand their internet skills as a means to a better understanding of current events.


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


ADELA KIM for a program to bring classical music to cancer, drug-rehabilitation and other in-patients at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, through a series of monthly, hour-long concerts performed by her and co-students from the Juilliard School. Also, to underwrite a fund-raising event by her, to enable the purchase a piano for the hospital and endow the program to ensure its continuation.


Pamela Mishkin for working with middle-school students to develop a greater awareness of their physical and social environment and helping them create a visual and written portrait of a Bronx neighborhood.

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


Katie Dubbs for creating A Cappellooza, a hugely-successful a cappella festival at Horace Mann, bringing together many schools in friendly competition. The festival has become a fixture on the School calendar, with all proceeds going to a Bronx community center.


Lauren Tomasulo to organize an activity and support group for hearing- and vision-impaired children, eight to thirteen years old.


Lydia Singerman for a ceramics program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Child Life Department. It aimed to provide some “relaxation, attention, and normalcy” to young bone-marrow transplant patients who are in strict isolation, with few activities to distract them.


Elizabeth Goodstein for working under the auspices of the American Heart Association and with a leading New York cardiologist to expand awareness of Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome (WPWS), a form of cardiac arrhythmia which is often the cause of sudden death among young athletes.

Jeremy Paduano for a “Building for Change” project, seeking to bring together students from the US and the Middle East, to build housing in post-Katrina New Orleans under the aegis of Habitat for Humanity. Fluent in Arabic, he also made substantial progress in seeking funding for Habitat from various Funds in the Persian Gulf, until the onset of the global financial crisis later that year scuttled this initiative.


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 and give their mothers some much-needed time to relax. This project is still continuing.


Isaaih Einzig for “Operation Santa,” which brought into the school “Dear Santa” letters from 22 families with children aged 5 months to 14 years and, assisted by a great turnout of students, purchased and wrapped presents and composed letters from Santa for delivery to these families.