At the event, Nassau County Legislator Robert Troiano will be honored with the 2012 Public Servant Award for his continued public service efforts in Westbury and surrounding Long Island communities. Legislator Troiano shares a deep commitment to the belief that children from disadvantaged backgrounds should have an equal opportunity to achieve their full intellectual, social and economic potential by attending and graduating from college and becoming productive citizens.
Also honored that evening with the 2012 John O’Neill Humanitarian Award will be NuHealth Foundation Executive Director Deidra Parrish-Williams and George Mason University Head Basketball Coach (and Westbury High School alum) Paul Hewitt. Both leaders are being recognized for their significant contributions to and involvement with helping further educational opportunities for students in underserved communities on Long Island and for their continued support of Project GRAD Long Island. The John O’Neill Humanitarian Award is presented annually to outstanding Long Islanders who embody the legacy of Mr. O’Neill, a Long Island philanthropist and business leader who was a strong advocate for Project GRAD Long Island with the region’s philanthropic community. The John O’Neill Humanitarian Award was first awarded in 2005 to North Fork Bank Senior Vice President Michael Keenan.
Project GRAD Long Island Executive Director Sybil Mimy Johnson noted, “Each of our honorees is to be commended for their community leadership and dedication to helping underprivileged students here on Long Island have the opportunity to receive a college education. They are true humanitarians who freely give of their time, services and resources. Because of the support of individuals such as these, high school students in underserved communities now have a chance to become the leaders of tomorrow.”
The mission of Project GRAD is to ensure a quality public education for all students in economically disadvantaged communities so that high school and college graduation rates increase. Project GRAD provides comprehensive college readiness services and professional development in partnership with school districts. The Project GRAD Long Island currently provides college readiness and awareness programs for Project GRAD Scholars from the Westbury Union Free School District.
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Project GRAD Long Island graduates have earned scholarships to institutions such as Penn State College Park, Long Island University-C.W. Post, NY Institute of Technology, Adelphi University, SUNY Stony Brook and Hofstra University, among others. In Project GRAD's original cluster of schools, it has increased the number of high school graduates by 94%, raised the number of students going to college by 400%, and generated a college completion rate 70% above the national average. For more information, please visit www.projectgradli.org.