Charitable Activities

The Michael Manzella Foundation partners with nonprofit organizations making a difference through the delivery of critical services in our core focus areas. MMF has made grants totaling more than $100,000 to charitable organizations whose direct impact is felt by the individuals and communities they serve. Recent grant recipients include:

Friends of Karen - Long Island, NY
$5000 Grant - 2017

Your child has cancer- what do you do? This is the terrible question that the experienced, caring professionals and volunteers at Friends of Karen help families answer every day. In the words of Beth, a Long Island mom with a loving husband Bryant, a job and three busy boys, the cancer diagnosis on her son Brady’s 10th birthday came as a shock. Beth admits that before Brady’s diagnosis she would have likelier been a donor to friends of Karen than a recipient of their services, and her family’s journey explains how life can change in the blink of an eye. She writes, “My world was upside-down. Bryant took a family leave. I stayed at the hospital 24/7 with Brady the entire time he was there which forced me to take an extended leave from work. Bills were stacking up, things were getting tough, and I couldn't even think about it because I was focused on Brady. Without Friends of Karen, I don’t know how we could have managed.”

Dream Yard Project - Bronx, NY
$5000 grant - 2017

The Arts can be a powerful tool for self-expression, empowerment, and growth. Still, in the low-income neighborhood schools of the Bronx, many children do without Arts programming of any kind. DreamYard project works to bring Arts programming to youth throughout the Bronx, and has even opened the DreamYard Preparatory School to prepare students for college and career. How does the DreamYard project affect the lives of young people? Spotlight on Jeremy, a Bronx youth who participated in the program and discovered a career there, eventually becoming Technology Director for DreamYard Prep: “DreamYard helped me figure out what to do with my life. I’ve been given a chance to give back and change young people’s lives. I’ve been pushed to grow because of the support that I received from DreamYard staff, who felt like a second family when I needed one. I really don’t know where I would be right now if DreamYard did not come to P.S./M.S. 95 all those years ago.”

Musicians on Call at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Cancer Center, NYC
$2500 grant - 2017

It’s no secret that music can make you feel better. That’s why Musicians on Call brings music to those who need it most—hospital patients. MOC brings volunteers to hospitals to perform at the bedsides of patients. This simple process can bring about miraculous changes for patients, including children who smile for the first time since they’ve been in the hospital to receive treatment for cancer. These one-on-one interactions between musician and patient have the powerful effect of restoring the happiness that often fades away in healthcare facilities. The program’s founders coordinated with Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City to create the foundation for its first regular Bedside Performance Program in 1999. Since then, they have expanded to over 19 regular bedside performance programs in our flagship city. Musician and MOC volunteer Gavin deGraw reports, “Being involved with Musicians On Call has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I consider it a great gift to be able to share music and bring smiles to these brave children and their loved ones. It is healing for us all and I can't wait to do it again!”

Backcountry Jazz - Bridgeport, CT
$2500 grant - 2017

BackCountry Jazz’s free programs include the BackCountry Jazz Summer Music Camp for Bridgeport Public School children, The After School Program in Bridgeport, scholarships, instruments, workshops, master classes, and exciting concerts and events with artists and educators who perform and teach at the highest level of excellence. The program engages the creative spirit of the children and significantly improves their ability to close the gap of social and educational experience that undermines so many from at-risk neighborhoods. Tania Kelley, Principal of Bridgeport Roosevelt School and former head of Arts Education for the Bridgeport Department of Education explains the value of the BCJ summer program, saying, "These children get more music education in one month than they get in the entire school year. It is critical that we expand the program throughout the year.” Moreover, former Bridgeport public school student Eric Z. reflects on the impact BCJ had on his life overall, noting, “A lot has changed since I became involved in BackCountry Jazz … BCJ has given me support, experience, inspiration, and encouragement that has helped me attend college, get a job, and propel me forward on my journey as a developing musician and as a person.”