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School Close To Fund Goal

Vanessa de la Torre

January 12, 2012

Capital Preparatory Magnet School has raised $90,000 in college scholarships for students, ahead of Friday's fundraiser with Bill Cosby.

In December, Capital Prep officials had hoped to reach their "lofty" $100,000 goal by May, when 36 seniors in the class of 2012 are expected to graduate. The school sought to raise at least $50,000 by the Friday night event.

Now, said Sterling Berliant, the school's community relations and development director, "We're hoping to reach the $100,000 by the end of the week."

More than 200 individuals and organizations have donated to this year's scholarship campaign, including four "platinum" sponsors with $10,000 gifts in recent weeks: Travelers Insurance; United Technologies Corp.; Elizabeth and Dr. Bruce Bower of West Hartford, a retired endocrinologist; and Hybrid Insurance Group, a black-owned firm based in Hartford.

The $50-a-ticket fundraiser at the school, called "An Evening With Dr. Cosby," sold out three weeks ago and includes Soledad O'Brien of CNN, former NBA star Jalen Rose, education reformer Geoffrey Canada and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris as special guests.

Cosby, a blunt speaker on education and responsibility in the African American community, is scheduled to give the keynote talk.

Capital Prep founder and principal Steve Perry has gone national over the past few years as a CNN commentator -- often touting the school's record for getting all seniors accepted into four-year colleges, no matter their socioeconomic background.

But last year, out of 30 graduates, eight are not attending a four-year college, although all received acceptance letters from at least one, Perry said last month.

Perry blamed tuition costs that have "spiraled out of control," making it difficult for even "middle-income" families to afford a higher education, he said.

Hybrid's president and chief executive, 29-year-old Earl O'Garro Jr., said Wednesday that he grew up in Windsor and believed in "paying it forward" with his firm's donation.

O'Garro, who described himself as a conservative, graduated from Wesleyan University in 2005. His mother worked hard to help pay for his education, O'Garro said, but he also indicated that he benefited from other generosity over the years.

"Those who have benefited from philanthropy," O'Garro said, "should return the favor."

Perry has expressed a similar outlook and expects all scholarship winners to eventually pay it back -- financially or through social good, or both.

Last school year, an inaugural event with Cosby helped Capital Prep raise $70,000 in scholarships. The recipients, 2011 graduates Wynton Borders and Khamarr Smith, are now freshmen at Morehouse College.

Those interested in donating can visit www.capitalprepimpact.com

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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