Columbus Citizens Foundation Pledges $500,000 to Help Reinstate High School Advanced Placement Program in Italian Language and Culture

May 25, 2010, 10:40 ET from Columbus Citizens Foundation

Commitment Matches Pledge from the Republic of Italy

NEW YORK, May 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Columbus Citizens Foundation's Board of Governors last Thursday pledged $500,000 to help reinstate The College Board's Italian Language and Culture Advanced Placement program.  The program, known as AP Italian, was suspended following the 2008-2009 school year because of a lack of funding.

The commitment, announced by the Foundation's president, Frank Fusaro, brings to $1 million funds pledged toward the AP reinstatement effort, which will require total contributions of $3 million.  The other funder to date is the Republic of Italy.  

The Foundation's funding of AP Italian comes in addition to the nearly $2 million that the Foundation distributes annually in scholarship assistance to approximately 700 Italian American students.  

"Our pledge continues the tradition of our first act of philanthropy, dating back to 1946, which provided scholarships to students who were striving to improve themselves and their opportunities in life," said Mr. Fusaro.  "The reinstatement of AP Italian will allow students to earn college credit for their advanced high school work and will encourage the study of Italian, the language of Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Giuseppe Verdi and Umberto Eco.  We call on all Italian language advocates to join us and the Republic of Italy in making the advanced study of Italian a vital part of the American educational system."

"The language and culture of Italy are touchstones of Western Civilization," said Louis Tallarini, chairman of the Foundation. "Our board of governors voted unanimously to support the reinstatement of AP Italian language and Culture, which should be available to all American high school students and students around the world who should be rewarded for their commitment to serious study."

In 2005, AP Italian became the first new foreign language and culture program that The College Board had instituted in over 50 years. The initiative to establish AP Italian was led by Matilda Cuomo, former First Lady of New York State, and Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo, her daughter and an Italian language advocate.  The number of students who took the AP Italian test grew by 42% during the four years the test was offered to 2,300 from 1,600.

The significant and promising increases did not meet early projections, however, and the program was suspended.

"The members of the Columbus Citizens Foundation are proud to honor the past, uphold traditions, support forward-looking initiatives in educations," said Lawrence Auriana, past president and past chairman of the Columbus Citizens Foundation.  "We are committed to reinstating AP Italian and furthering the love of Italian language and culture."

Founded in 1944 to preserve and honor the culture, accomplishments and traditions of Italians and Italian Americans, the Columbus Citizens Foundation today produces New York City's Annual Columbus Celebration, which includes the Columbus Day Parade, the largest celebration of its kind in the world.  Since its creation, the Foundation has provided tens of millions of dollars in scholarship funding, relief to earthquake victims in Italy and Turkey, assistance to families of American service personnel slain overseas, and a host of other charitable causes.

CONTACT: Andrew Decker


SOURCE Columbus Citizens Foundation