NORWALK, Conn. – Alumni of the Carver Foundation of Norwalk are joining together to raise and maintain $100,000 annually for scholarships so that this year’s high school graduates can pursue their college dreams.
Carver is reaching out to any individuals who have attended the center in its 77 years to donate money for the Richard N. Fuller Sr. Scholarship Fund, which assists underprivileged youth with the costs of attending college.
Fuller was the beloved executive director of the Carver Center for 25 years who passed away in 2011.
Carver alumni Denise Rawles-Smith, Kimberly Gaddy and Diane Peters joined with Executive Director Novelette Peterkin, Mayor Harry Rilling and state Rep. Gail Lavielle to announce the launch of the new campaign Thursday. All spoke highly of Richard Fuller, their experiences at Carver, and the opportunities they and other alumni have been afforded through scholarships and through their experiences at the center.
“This was Ricky’s heart,” said Peters, Richard Fuller’s sister. Her family has a long history with the Carver Center, dating to her grandmother, who was one of the first cooks at Carver. “We as a family are totally dedicated to making sure Ricky’s dream comes true, and that is to fully educate every young child that needs education – and they all do – and to give them love and attention and everything they need.”
“We as alumni owe it to this place to come back and make sure it’s running and that it can fulfill dreams of our kids,” said Gaddy. “Because we know that it’s hard to get into college, it’s hard to stay there, and we have to be the case and an example to show you can do it, you will be successful.”
The alumni have established a CrowdRise page to raise money, and are reaching out to fellow alumni across the country to give what they can. Last year Carver awarded $81,000 in college scholarships. This year, there are 42 Carver students going off to college, and next year there will be 108 alumni in college. Alumni are also being asked to give back in other ways.
“We don’t only want money from alum, we want alum to come back here to serve as mentors and role models, to tell their stories, to participate in events. We owe that to this place,” said Rawles-Smith. “If every alum gives $100, we can reach our goal.”
Peterkin said that 100 percent of Carver seniors are graduating from high school, 95 percent are enrolled in college, and since 2005, 85 percent have graduated from college. She said the scholarships go a long way towards helping kids with tuition, as well as living expenses.
“If a kid earns the opportunity to go to the school of their choice, they should be able to, and that’s why I do the work I do,” Peterkin said. “If they did all the work to get there and finances hold them back, it really breaks my heart.”
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