The Italian American Cultural Foundation (IACF) and the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) are very enthusiastic about a new scholarship program called the IACF Italian Opera Award. IACF will provide $1,000 to a qualified incoming graduate student to specialize in the study and performance of Italian opera. It is expected that this new program will enhance the role of Italian opera in Northeast Ohio and perhaps even spawn the next Pavarotti or Callas!
To sustain this program, IACF will aggregate donations from the Italian American business community, individuals and the various Italian American clubs in Northeast Ohio and present the total to CIM, who establishes the qualifying musical criteria. The first of these awards will be presented to an incoming fall 2012 graduate student. Donations and have thus far been received from: American Copier Solutions, Inc., Peter Apicella, Feren Fruit & Gift Baskets, the Wickliffe Italian-American Club, Dr. Vincent Branca, Esq., Mrs. Ursula Berardinelli and a very generous gift from The Italian-American Professional and Businessman's Club, based in Akron.
Founded in 1972 to "promote the richness of the Italian culture and heritage and the Italian American experience," IACF has been supporting the Italian Art Song program at CIM since 2001. This year's winners, Alicia M. Bonsuer and Jacquelyn Mouritsen will be going on to graduate school to continue their vocal studies.
IACF also conducts a Literature Awards Program for college and high school students of Italian descent. Applicants are asked to read a book from a prescribed list pertaining to the Italian American experience and write an essay on how the text influenced their perspective of their Italian heritage. The essays are then judged by a panel of volunteer academicians from Lake Erie College. This program has been highly successful, with IACF awarding $12,000 - $18,000 to some 60 - 70 high school and college students annually since 1992. Financial support for this program comes from various Italian American clubs in Northeast Ohio.