Archive for the 'Foundation Projects' Category

Sep 14 2012

Thank You for a successful 6th Annual “A Night with an Angel” event!

A huge thank you to all our incredible supporters for helping make our 6th Annual “A Night with an Angel” on September 10th, 2012 such an astounding success. We had over 250 attend the dinner and had our most successful silent auction to date! We hope you were inspired by all the work being completed by young people to make a difference. Emily’s giving spirit is still going strong through others.

Please check our photo gallery for photos from the event.

Below is the inspiring video shown at the dinner featuring our past and present scholarship and ambassador winners and how Emily’s legacy continues to inspire:

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Feb 08 2012

Happy New Year and Save the Date!

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Nov 08 2011

Empowering Women Through Traditional Crafts

We have awarded our 2011 Ambassador grant to Paola del Prado for her inspiring project “Empowering Dominican Women through traditional crafts”. Paola has traveled down to the Dominican Republic with Eileen Specchio’s nursing trip this past March and was inspired to action after seeing the extreme poverty in the country. Her project involves teaching the women of the poor rural town of San Juaquin a profitable trade (making jewelry) and assisting in the sales of these crafts.

Paola in the Dominican Republic

We can’t wait to follow how her project progresses! If you’d like to know more, please visit her website!

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Feb 17 2011

Now accepting applications for our 2011 Ambassador Grant(s)!

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is calling all visionary youth in the NJ/NY area to apply for our 2011 Ambassador grant. This grant awards grants to young people with big ideas on how to give back – whether it be locally or internationally. All applications are due April 1st.

What are we looking for?
The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is seeking young adults aged 18-25 living in the New Jersey/New York area with a clear vision for a community outreach project to be started/completed within a year of this grant. The project can be designed to help others either domestically or internationally.

How does the Ambassador program work?
The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is looking for inspired young people to embody our mission. The ambassador will clearly state to the Foundation their project goals and mission along with an estimated timeline and funds required. The Foundation will provide mentoring support to the ambassador to help set up a blog or website and fundraise for their cause. The ambassador must present their project ideas and progress at a minimum of three venues (schools, organizations, churches, etc.) in the New Jersey/New York area including The Emily C. Specchio annual “A Night with an Angel” banquet in May 2011. The Foundation will award $1,000 to this year’s ambassador(s), and will match money raised by the Ambassador (up to $2,500) for one year 2 to 1.

For more information and the 2011 application, please visit our Ambassador page.

The full application can be downloaded here as a PDF: ambassador application 2011

We look forward to reading all your great and inspirational ideas!

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Dec 31 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 was a fantastic and very productive year for the Emily C. Specchio Foundation thanks to your support! We truly have a lot to be thankful for.

With your help, the Emily C. Specchio Foundation has made major strides towards our mission of empowering youth to make a difference. Our accomplishments for this year include:

  • The selection of four Virginia Tech students with excellent records of leadership, scholarship, and community service to award the endowed Emily C. Specchio Memorial scholarship, bringing the total scholarships award since inception to 17!
  • Funding twelve young women entrepreneurs from around the world through Kiva no-interest microloans, bringing our total entrepreneurs supported to 24.
  • Donation of a new Panasonic laptop computer (courtesy of Jay Caldas) to the Mother Patern School of Health Sciences Library in Monrovia, Liberia for the new Masters Program in Nursing Education.
  • Helping Sister Prisca Nwogu, R.N., College of Saint Elizabeth Alum, in her humanitarian project to build a hospital in Evbuotubu Village, Nigeria, which will serve nearly 1 million people who currently have no nearby medical facilities.

Thank you all for your continuing support!! We hope to have an even bigger and more successful 2011. Happy New Year!

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Dec 06 2010

An Interview with our 2010 Ambassador, Janet Latuga

Our 2010 Emily C. Specchio Ambassador grant is awarded to Janet Latuga, a senior marketing major at Fairfield University. The grant will support Janet’s project involving the selling of crafts by artisans from Mayasa, Nicaragua to help support and expand their business. Families that live in the rural sector of this small city have passed on the traits and skills required to produce crafts of varying size, shape, and detail; however, despite the extraordinary talents of the artisans and quality of their products, their impoverished location restricts their ability to sell to bigger markets.

Janet learned of this community through a research project with Professor Tellis of Fairfield, and took on the task of helping the artisans expand their market by importing their crafts and selling them at various events in the US. Janet traveled to Mayasa in February 2010 to meet with the artisans in person, as well as meet with Nitlapan, the microfinance institution that works with the artisans to fund their work.

Her goal with our grant is to allow the artisans to expand their businesses by importing their items to the US and to make this model sustainable at Fairfield after she graduates. We recently spoke with Janet and learned even more about her past experiences, project updates, and goals for the future.

Q: How did you learn of the artisans in Nicaragua and where did you get the idea for your project?

Janet Latuga: I learned about the artisans in Nicaragua from Professor Tellis.  He is an information systems professor in the School of Business at Fairfield University.  He also was the person who gave me the idea to bring the crafts here and sell them at campus events.  My freshman year, he had brought in a selection of the crafts and sold them at one event he ran.  I remembered him telling my class about the crafts, so when he suggested that idea for my project, I thought it was terrific.

Q: You traveled to Nicaragua to meet the people in these communities face to face. Describe what you saw during this trip and how it may have changed your outlook of the world.

JL: Meeting the artisans was an unforgettable experience.  Their houses had dirt floors and wild dogs running throughout the area.  Their houses were all very close together, and they did not have the large property space that can be found in the U.S.  It really made me realize all the things I take for granted.  I never thought about the importance of hard wood floors or insulation.  I take air conditioning for granted, but these luxuries are not afforded to the families I met.  It made me realize that people in America live a very sheltered life.  We don’t realize what it’s like for families in other cultures and countries.

Q: Describe how your project makes an impact for the artisans and their communities in Nicaragua.

JL: The artisans were looking for an outlet in the U.S.  They wanted to find a way to sell more of their crafts to help their business flourish, and my project does just that.  I’m not taking profits from the items I sell.  I use the money from the crafts I sell to re-order more products from them.  They need more outlets to sell their crafts in order to make a living, and I created that for them.

Q: Your goal is to make this project sustainable at Fairfield. How do you plan to make this a reality?

JL: My goal has already started becoming a reality.  I’ve already spoken to two student groups on campus about my project, and I have begun to get volunteers.  I’m also speaking with the faculty of the school of business in December about my project.  I hope that they will be able to get a class involved in managing and maintaining my project.  They recently added an entrepreneurship concentration to the school of business, and I feel as though my project would be a great project for one of those classes.

Q How can others follow your progress and contribute to this project?

JL: I’ve started a blog online at  This is a great way for people to see what I’ve been doing and offer suggestions.

Q: How has the Emily C. Specchio Ambassador program helped you to make this community service project a reality?

JL: The foundation has been a great help to me already.  I just started my blog this year.  I had never even thought of the idea until I was involved in the Ambassador program.  I also was not doing any fundraising before because I did not have the help of a foundation, but now through the program, I’ll be able to raise money to leave future students with enough capital to keep my project going.

The Emily C. Specchio Ambassador program is committed to empowering young people to make a difference. Thank you for you support of our foundation that allows programs like this a reality.

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Aug 30 2010

Building a playground at Kopila Valley Children’s Home

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is excited to announce a new project and collaboration with BlinkNow, a non-profit organization founded by Maggie Doyne, an alumna of Mendham High School (where Emily also attended school). After high school Maggie traveled extensively and was overwhelmed with the number of orphans growing up in war-torn Nepal. Believing in the power of the individual, Maggie founded BlinkNow and raised the funds to create an orphanage and school for these children in need. Three years ago she built Kopila Valley Children’s Home, where she helps care for over 30 children. This year she directed the construction of a primary school which will provide for the town of Surkhet, Nepal and surrounding communities.

We have decided to partner with Maggie on her next large project – the construction of a playground for the school using recycled materials! More details to come….. stay tuned!

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Oct 27 2009

Announcing our 2009 Emily C. Specchio Ambassadors!

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is proud to announce the inaugural Emily C. Specchio Ambassadors. We started this program this year to encourage and support youth who have big ideas to make a positive impact on communities in need, whether it be local or international.

Our 2009 Ambassadors are:

  • Vincent Caldas
  • Timothy Mernar
  • Kevin Tolentino

All three ambassadors are seniors at St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City New Jersey

The winner project idea: “The Prep Micro-bank: A Student Driven Philanthropic Enterprise”

(excerpts from the winning proposal are below)

  • “Students from St. Peter’s Preparatory School in conjunction with our Campus Ministry plan to give funds in the form of no-interest loans so that recipients in impoverished nations can use the principal to begin a business that will contribute to growing a local economy and to get on their own two feet.”
  • “The [loan] recipients will be members of communities where Jesuit and Jersuit volunteers serve, for instance, Micronesia, Nigeria, and Ecuador. These no-interest loans will provide much needed principal for people to start their own enterprises and secure their own means of income, which they will then use to pay back the original loan. This will allow us to continue awarding these loans using only our primary investment.”

Vincent, Timothy, and Kevin will receive $1000 up-front from The Emily C. Specchio Foundation, and will additionally receive 2:1 matching funds (up to $5000 total) for speaking engagements designed to inspire youth to make a difference.

Follow their progress on this deserving project on their microfinance website!

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May 06 2009

New Foundation Initiatives

Due to the overwhelming success in fully endowing The Emily Carrigg Specchio Memorial Scholarship at Virginia Tech, The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is pleased to announce new initiatives to further fulfill our mission of following in Emily’s footsteps and helping others both nationally and internationally.

“Be the Change you wish to see in the World” - Ghandi

In the spirit of one of Emily’s favorite quotes, we are pleased to announce THREE new initiatives of The Emily C. Specchio Foundation for 2009-10 onward. These new initiatives all focus on young people taking action in making the world a better place.

1. The start of The Emily C. Specchio Ambassador Program

The Emily C. Specchio Ambassador program will distribute grants to New Jersey residents aged 18-25 with a clear vision for a community outreach project to be started/completed within a year of receiving funding. The project can be designed to help others either domestically or internationally.  To read more and apply visit our new Emily C. Specchio Ambassador Page.

2. Micro-lending to International Entrepreneurs

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is now involved in the micro-financing of young women entrepreneurs in their 20′s living in developing countries through Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

View The Emily C. Specchio Foundation team page on and follow our currently funded entrepreneurs!

Kiva Banner

3. Partnership with The New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC)

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is partnering up with the NJCDC to fund youth seeking to make a difference in innercity areas. The NJCDC is a not-for-profit organization focusing on community development, affordable housing, educational initiatives, and youth development for families, teens, children, and people with disabilities in Paterson, NJ.

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is working towards the creation of a scholarship in collaboration with Paterson Youth Council, part of NJCDC, which is made up of dynamic young residents of Paterson between the ages of 13 and 19 who cultivate confidence, independence, leadership skills, and a voice of their own through service learning and community involvement.

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Jul 11 2008

Partnership with the Marco Ambrosio Global HIV/AIDS project

Published by admin under Foundation Projects

Marco HIV Project

The Emily C. Specchio Foundation is pleased to announce a partnership with Marco Ambrosio, cousin of Emily, to support his Global HIV/AIDS awareness project.  Marco will be traveling around the world and gathering information for his book about the disparate realities of living with HIV/AIDS around the globe. 

Read more about his project at

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