The Barat Foundation holds its annual grant ceremony


Yesterday, the Barat Foundation hosted its 18th annual grant ceremony at Sacred Heart Greenwich. During the ceremony, which took place in the Lennie and John de Csepel Theater, the 18 members of the Barat Foundation presented 11 non-profit organizations with monetary grants that will help to further their missions.
The Barat Foundation is a student-run organization with two faculty advisors, Assistant Head of Upper School and Academic Dean Mrs. Gail Casey and Upper School English Teacher Dr. Allison Alberts. The group currently consists of five seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, and three freshmen. It reaches out to non-profit organizations that support children and encourages them to apply for grants. After the organizations submit their applications, the members of the Barat Foundation meet to determine which organizations will receive grants.

Head of School of Grace Academy Mr. Matthew Fitzsimmons accepts a grant and speaks about Grace Academy. Caroline Baranello ’20

Former Sacred Heart Greenwich parent Mr. Larry Lunt founded the Barat Foundation in 2004 with the assistance of former Sacred Heart Headmistress Sr. Joan Magnetti and Upper School students. Mr. Lunt and Sr. Magnetti envisioned a philanthropic organization that would utilize an endowment that Mr. Lunt established to help other children while educating Sacred Heart students involved in the foundation about philanthropy.
At the grant ceremony, members of the Barat Foundation introduced each organization, explaining what the organizations do to help others and how they plan to use the grant money. The members then presented representatives from each organization with the grants.
The Barat Foundation presented Building One Community, in Stamford, Connecticut, with a grant for one of its projects: Academic Support Programs for Low-Income Immigrant Children and Families. This initiative consists of two sub-programs, the Homework & Enrichment Club and the Summer Reading Program. The Homework & Enrichment Club meets twice a week, where tutors help students after school with their homework while parents converse with other parents to practice their English language skills. The Summer Reading Program helps students whose second language is English retain and improve upon what they learn during the school year. This program also offers opportunities for the students’ parents to practice speaking English. The Barat Foundation previously supported Building One Community in 2016 and in 2017.
The Barat Foundation also gave a grant to Camp Veritas, a week-long Catholic summer sleep-away camp with four locations in the United States and one in Ireland. Volunteers, including counselors, priests, and religious, help teenagers in grades 7 through 12 begin and strengthen their relationships with God and others through Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, testimonies, and activities throughout the week. The Barat Foundation gave Camp Veritas enough money to provide full scholarships to two teenagers for camp attendance.
Sacred Heart former Head of Lower School Dr. Ann Marr accepts a grant from the Barat Foundation on behalf of the Community Coalition for Haiti. Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

The Community Coalition for Haiti was another grant recipient. The Barat Foundation grant will help provide full scholarships for three elementary students in Haiti, including their tuition, uniforms, school meals, and school books. Doctors also visit the school multiple times each year, providing free medical clinics for students and their families. Dr. Ann Marr,  former Sacred Heart Head of Lower School, accepted the grant. Dr. Marr has worked in Haitian schools through the Community Coalition for Haiti since her retirement as Lower School Head three years ago.
The Barat Foundation also presented Grace Academy, a tuition-free all-girls middle school in Hartford, Connecticut, with a grant. The grant will fund a community service project, in which students will create “Blessing Bags,” which are bags containing toiletries, socks, hats, and gloves that students give to the homeless in Hartford. The grant will also allow Grace Academy to send toiletries to Lakota Native Americans who live on the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. Last year, the Barat Foundation provided a grant to Grace Academy for a similar project.
Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport is a program that educates low-income women in literacy while also training them in life skills. The Barat Foundation provided Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport with a grant to help fund their Early Childhood Education Program, which provides childcare while mothers learn. The childcare also includes educating the children, helping them improve their fluency in English, fine motor skills and gross motor skills, as well as social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills.
The Barat Foundation also gave a grant to Neighbor to Neighbor for their Supplies for Success project. The project provides backpacks filled with school supplies to students in Greenwich whose families are unable to pay for new school supplies each year. The Barat Foundation’s grant will provide 20 students with these backpacks and school supplies.
Operation Medical School, a student-run organization which holds an annual conference for high school students interested in working in the medical field in the future, also received a grant from the Barat Foundation. The grant will help fund the organization’s conference for this year. Sacred Heart senior Sofia Caruso is the President of the Operation Med School New York Branch and junior and Barat Foundation member Meredith Wilson is the branch’s Finance Director.
The Barat Foundation presented the Red Cloud Indian School with a grant for the third consecutive year. This year, the grant will help fund healthy meals for the school’s students during its four-week summer program. Many families living on the Pine Ridge reservation struggle to afford healthy meals, so the school works to provide healthy meals for its students. During the four-week summer program, the school will provide nearly 4,000 meals on both its Red Cloud and Our Lady of Lourdes campuses.
The Saint Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford, Connecticut works to educate parents who are at risk of abusing their children. The center’s goal is to educate the parents in order to protect the children, and thus, strengthen families. The Barat Foundation provided a grant to help the Saint Joseph Parenting Center partner with the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford to run a childcare program. This program will allow more parents to attend the classes with knowledge that the Boys & Girls Club staff will be caring for their children.
Members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich Barat Foundation pose together after the grant ceremony. Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Sacred Heart Institute for Transformative Education (SHIFT) will run a three-day catechetical camp in the Philippines for 40 college-age students with the Barat Foundation’s help. Most of the young adults attending the camp cannot afford to pay for it, so the Barat grant will contribute to covering the costs of the camp. Religious of the Sacred Heart sisters run the camp, and this is the third consecutive year that the Barat Foundation has donated to SHIFT.
The Barat Foundation also donated to the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA), which is in Mumbai, India. SNEHA works to educate women and teenagers in four major areas: maternal and newborn health, child health and nutrition, protecting women and children from violence, and information about health and sexuality for teenagers. The grant is specifically helping to fund the Livelihood Program, which affords the women and children in the slums of Mumbai with the opportunity to learn tailoring skills. These skills help empower women to lead financially independent lives.
Senior and President of the Barat Foundation Julia Herzig expressed how the Barat Foundation has helped her while she has worked to help others.
“Being a member of the Barat Foundation has taught me so much,” Julia said. “I have been exposed to issues that I would never have before. I have learned financial skills, and I have learned about how to work as a member of a team. Being able to work together and to see how our donations impact the applicants year after year has inspired me to go forth and continue with community service and charitable work in college and beyond.”
– Mae Harkins, Staff Writer
Featured Image courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide