A life-changing opportunity for Fox Lane students
Louis Fusco of Pound Ridge beams like a justifiably proud papa when discussing the recipients of the Rewarding Potential Scholarship (RPS) program, a community-funded effort that helps Fox Lane High School students fill the gaps inevitably left by college financial aid packages. “RPS has awarded annually recurring scholarships of between $5,000 and $10,000 to four students each year for the past four years,” says Fusco, who is a member of the steering committee. “To date we have paid out $278,000 and another $196,000 is committed for the next four years. I’m happy to claim that so far, we have a 100 percent success rate!”
RPS was founded in 2015 by Pastor Paul Alcorn, who recently retired from the Bedford Presbyterian Church, and Carola Bracco of Neighbors Link, who are still ex-officio members. They connected with Steve Marcisz, head of guidance of Fox Lane High School, to help manage the application and selection process. The scholarships are completely funded by individual donors.
In addition to providing financial aid, RPS offers mentoring support. “The things we take for granted—like getting a college education—are such monumental things for these kids, many of whom are the first in their families to do so,” Fusco says. “A mentor helps them answer questions about what to look for in choosing the right school for them—courses of study, location, ease of getting to and from campus—along with financial issues.”
Milton Recinos (pictured about with mentor Louis Fusco), a junior at SUNY Delhi majoring in construction management, never thought he would be able to continue with his education after high school. “I had an English teacher who told me he was still paying off his student loans, and he was in his 40s! I wouldn’t have been able to take the risk to go to college without the scholarship I received.” And he knows that when he has a question or is stressed out about anything, he can call Fusco, his mentor. “He has always been there for me,” he says.
Lisdy Contreras-Giron, one of the first scholarship beneficiaries, graduated from Pace in May 2019. She is currently working full-time at a law office as a paralegal and hopes to attend law school in the near future. “Education was always a priority in my family, and my parents encouraged me to do well in school.”
She knew early on that she wanted to be a lawyer. “I wanted to go to Pace, which is one of the top schools. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it, but I was motivated and willing to work for the chance to attend. When I heard about the RPS program, I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity—something I had to try for. I will always remember the day when my parents and I went into the interview with Paul and Carola and learned that I won the scholarship. We all just started crying. That day changed my life forever. I knew then that my dream would become a reality.”
While at school, she worked three jobs and took on every possible position that she could—from student government to president of the honor society.
“Pace is an open and diverse college, and its motto—Opportunitas—means everyone can find their own path to success. But I wouldn’t have made it here without the support of the entire Bedford school community and this scholarship. The day I received the scholarship, I remember promising the committee that I would make them proud, and I did when I graduated magna cum laude last spring. But I can’t wait for them to see me once I get my law degree and am able to give back to the community that helped me so much.”
How to Apply for the RPS
To be eligible, a Fox Lane High School senior must meet RPS’s criteria and submit an application to the selection committee. The committee reviews each application, interviews the finalists, and selects the winning scholars. Awards are based on merit, need, and available funds.
›› Fill out RPS application forms, which are available in the guidance office in early November of your senior year.
››Only seniors at Fox Lane High School with a family household income that meets the financial criteria of less than 200 percent of EOP and HEOP guidelines are eligible to apply.
››Students must apply to at least one SUNY or CUNY school and one reach school.
››This scholarship is intended to be a life-changing event. Ideal candidates should have a track record of working hard in high school and be committed to continuing that work ethic in college.