In the middle of the 20th century, Italian Americans felt that they were not considered as socially desirable as the rest of the American population. Realizing that changes in perceptions were needed, six prominent Italian Americans began a far-reaching crusade to demonstrate their ethnicity’s worth to the Greater Rochester, NY community. It would begin with a mission to create an awareness that Italian Americans were indeed a people capable of doing good for those who were neglected and less fortunate in society. To that end, a Foundation for charitable giving was created as a New York State Not-for-Profit corporation, having U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) status. That entity is known as the Italian Heritage Foundation of Rochester.

During the post World War II era, funds were raised to support war-torn Europe’s orphans and when that challenge was met, to aid children who were physically or mentally challenged or economically disadvantaged. The Foundation sought neither recognition nor a reward for what it did, except perhaps, for a smile from a child who thought he or she had no reason to smile.

In 2007, the Foundation sharpened its focus and embarked on a new challenge facing the Greater Rochester community, namely to help students continue their education in private high schools by providing scholarship assistance based upon financial need. The Foundation’s members believe that students who do not finish high school deprive themselves of an opportunity to go to college, which is necessary to move up the social and economic strata.

Since 2008, the Italian Heritage Foundation of Rochester has granted over $250,000 to private high schools in Monroe County for educational purposes. It does this through financial advancement activities, which include a Golf Tournament, a Spring Reverse Raffle Dinner, and an Italian Heritage Gala Dinner. As is the Foundation’s tradition, the majority of the funds raised are used for charitable purposes. As to the future, the Foundation also plans to support other community charitable entities, those having specific initiatives.

The Directors of the Foundation realize that they are stewards of their Italian heritage. Attendance at committee and board meetings and active participation is a must. Directors support the Foundation in meaningful ways, including being a financial benefactor of one of the organization’s three major events and supporting the Foundation’s endowment.

The Italian Heritage Foundation’s members are proud of their roots and grateful for the opportunities that the Greater Rochester, NY community has provided them. The Foundation endeavors to give back to the community some of the goodness it has been given.