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11th Annual Upstander Award Applications Open

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, in partnership with the Holocaust Memorial Tolerance Center (HMTC,) annually award $5,000 education scholarships to Nassau and Suffolk County students who have shown themselves to be Upstanders against intolerance in all of its forms. The student’s action as an Upstander could be one of intervention or prevention, great or small.

“We are proud to sponsor the Upstander Award which honors the life of our founder Claire Friedlander and embodies her legacy of recognizing those who make the often-difficult decision to take a stand against intolerance and hatred,” said foundation President Peter J. Klein.

HMTC defines an Upstander as a person who stands up for others, and does not allow bigotry, hatred or intolerance to happen without intercession.

To Apply:

• Teachers: Must Write a brief nomination letter about what makes your student/students Upstanders.

• Students: Must Write a 500-word essay on what makes you an Upstander using the essay prompt: I have demonstrated the actions of an Upstander by…

The ideal student nominated for this award:

  • Is committed to making our world a better place by demonstrating that they are not bystanders, but Upstanders who have taken action on behalf of another against prejudice, hatred or indifference;
  • Knows the importance of guarding the rights and safety of others, and exemplifies this through their daily actions;
  • Believes in HMTC’s underlying message that every individual can make a difference in their schools and communities, and knows that no act is too small to inspire change.
  • Is currently in middle school or high school (6th-12th grade), and lives in Nassau or Suffolk County, Long Island, NY.

Application MUST include a nominating letter from any teacher, guidance counselor, community member, community leader, or peer who has knowledge of a student who has acted as an Upstander may nominate that student for the Friedlander Upstander Award.

The deadline for applications for the 2021 Friedlander Upstander Awards is April 14, 2021. Click here for a link to apply and for more information.

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The Vanderbilt Museum – A Local Treasure

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is pleased to provide a grant to The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum located in Centerport, NY. The Museum is a unique combination of mansion, marine and natural history museum, planetarium, and park that is dedicated to the education and enjoyment of the people of Long Island and beyond.

They achieve their mission through the thoughtful preservation, interpretation, and enhancement of the Eagle’s Nest estate as an informal educational facility. Many exhibition and program themes focus upon Long Island’s Gold Coast era. Programs also concentrate on William K. Vanderbilt II’s desire that his marine, natural history, and ethnographic collections promote appreciation and understanding of the marvelous diversity of life, other cultures, and scientific knowledge. Planetarium programming, more specifically, focuses on scientific knowledge and seeks to capture Mr. Vanderbilt’s sense of adventure and exploration through state-of-the-art entertainment.

Foundation President Peter J. Klein said “by supporting the Vanderbilt Museum, we are able to assist them with their operations, creation of virtual education programs, and the distribution of digital content in the form of significant pieces from the Museum’s collections. It’s important to us to provide funding during this most challenging time because the museum does so much for the local community. It really is an important piece of local history.”

For more information visit vanderbiltmuseum.org

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Sustaining History: Walt Whitman Birthplace Association

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation recognizes the importance of local cultural landmarks and is pleased to support the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA.) Their mission is to preserve and promote the life and legacy of Walt Whitman, 1819-1891, author of the acclaimed book of poetry, “Leaves of Grass,” published in 1855.   The Whitman Birthplace attracts international scholars, historians, poets, authors, students, and individuals that feel a connection to Whitman and his writing.  WWBA 2020 Poet in Residence Juan Felipe Herrera Reads “Social Distancing” Circle Poem 

The 2020 Friedlander grant, assisted the WWBA in remaining sustainable during the Covid-19 pandemic and ultimately enabled the WWBA to achieve an important goal of expanding their global presence for the historic site in Huntington, Long Island, where Walt was born in 1819, 201 years ago.  By affording the WWBA to have the resources to provide their poetic and scholarly events in a virtual setting, they were able to engage talented poets from around the world.  In addition, this program will move forward into 2021 featuring readings from poets currently living in England and Ireland as part of their signature series Walking With Whitman. This series has always brought both local and international poets to the Birthplace Interpretive Center stage, however now they will connect with a diverse community of poets directly in their homes. 

“The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is pleased to support the educational and cultural efforts of the WWBA,” said Foundation President Peter J. Klein. “Assisting them in sustaining their international programming is very rewarding but it is especially significant to help them generate and expand their educational content for students.”

The Foundation support was also a catalyst for their 2020 fundraising endeavor, “The Giving Campaign,” based on Walt’s words, “When I give, I give myself.”   Due to Covid challenges, the WWBA lost one third of their operating budget. The Foundation’s support inspired the Trustees to achieve new fundraising goals to fill this gap.  To learn more about the WWBA or to make a donation visit   the WWBA website.

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Huntington Hospital Covid Support

Claire Friedlander Family Foundation’s most recent grant to Huntington Hospital supported the work of their courageous frontline caregivers and aggressive COVID-19 response.

Huntington Hospital is an essential resource for the community as they utilize grants to expand telemedicine programs to treat seniors and immunocompromised individuals who are homebound and provide gravely ill isolated patients a way to connect with loved ones through technology. In addition, funding aids their ability to purchase PPE, ventilators, HEPA filters, dialysis machines, as well as expanding their capability to create negative pressure rooms and increase access to oxygen farms. Funding is also provided for novel research at the Feinstein Institute that provides critical knowledge of disease and benefits patients and thought leaders around the globe.


“It is important to the foundation to continue to provide financial support to Huntington Hospital that make lasting and meaningful impacts on their ability to sustain momentum during the pandemic,” said Claire Friedlander Family Foundation President Peter J. Klein.”

For more information visit Huntington Hospital Northwell Health

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Retinal Imaging At The Dolan Family Health Center

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation recognizes and appreciates the significant efforts of the Northwell Health Dolan Family Health Center, Greenlawn, NY, which provides comprehensive medical care for thousands of men, women and children each year. For more than 25 years, the Dolan Family Health Center has been at the intersection of innovation, excellence and community commitment.

The Dolan Center endeavors to provide comprehensive diabetes care as part of their goal to protect, promote, and maintain the health and general well-being of all of their patients. One of the many complications individuals experience from this chronic disease is diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can cause vision loss and blindness. The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation’s support enabled the Dolan Family Health Center to purchase a Topcon tabletop retinal camera to serve their patients who suffer with diabetes.

“Upon learning that historically the Dolan Center has seen poor compliance with completion of ophthalmology referrals, leaving diabetic patients at risk for eye disease, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation proudly provided a grant to make it possible for Dolan Center patients to have access to the diabetic retinal screening process,” said Foundation President Peter J. Klein. “It’s important to us to work with Northwell Health Huntington Hospital and the Dolan Center to stay at the forefront of technology and innovation when it comes to patient care.”

Click here to learn more about the Dolan Family Health Center

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A Legacy Agent

Claire Friedlander Family Foundation President Peter J. Klein’s interview with Worth explains what it means to be “a legacy agent” and how his work with Claire Friedlander evolved into the foundation we have today.

Click here to view the article

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“Wearing is Caring” Public Health Initiative

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is pleased to support the “Wearing is Caring” public health awareness campaign designed to raise awareness of health care disparities in underserved communities, the need for social distancing, and the importance of wearing face coverings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. A project of the Henry Schein Cares Foundation (HSCF), in partnership with The UPS Foundation, the campaign is aligned with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) that encourages the use of cotton or cloth face coverings in public spaces to reduce community spread.

Through the “Wearing is Caring” campaign, Henry Schein and its partners will continue to identify and work with additional organizations to further expand public awareness around health care disparities in underserved communities, the importance of oral health care, and the need for social distancing and wearing of face coverings.

“It’s important to the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation that we continue our support of HSCF commitment to the betterment and advocacy of public health, wellness and health equality,” said Peter J. Klein, Foundation President.

To learn more about “Wearing is Caring” please visit www.hscaresfoundation.org.

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The Book Fairies

Reading is essential and it starts with a book. The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation believes in and supports the important work of The Book Fairies, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that collects reading materials for people in need throughout metropolitan New York. The reading materials foster literacy and academic success, provide a respite from personal struggles, and nurture a love of reading across age groups.

Founded in 2012, The Book Fairies collect and redistribute new and gently used books to communities that lack access to reading materials. Books are collected through drives organized with schools, businesses and organizations. Through upcycling, resources that already exist are shifted from those who no longer need them to those who need them most. The Book Fairies has four program areas: Children’s Programs, Community Programs, Global Literacy, and Special Needs Partnerships.

Since inception, over 2.4 Million books have been distributed, benefitting 572 individual learning institutions and 255 Community organizations. In 2019, 597,652 books were distributed, including 150,000 that went overseas, and 12 tons were recycled. Over 180 volunteer opportunities were provided for special needs individuals, offering them a chance to contribute to their own communities. With the shutdown of schools and businesses in March of this year due to Covid-19, it became even more evident that their books were essential as so many children were left in the dark without access to books.

“We are very proud that the Claire Friedlander Foundation grant supported The Book Fairies distribution of over 190,000 books in response to the Covid-19 crisis, said Foundation President Peter J. Klein.” They continue to work within CDC guidelines to get books into the hands of children in need and we hope our participation will motivate others to assist them as well.”

For more information visit https://thebookfairies.org/

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2020 Friedlander Upstander Award Winners

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Friedlander Upstander Awards, the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation provided a $20,000 grant that funded $5,000 scholarships the 2020 essay winners. The foundation and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in (HMTC) in conjunction with Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments annually honor middle school, high school and college students on Long Island who confront intolerance, prejudice or other forms of social injustice. Each of the award winners has demonstrated through their daily choices how they are Upstanders.

The 2020 Friedlander Upstander Award Winners are Avery DeNatale, a 12th grade student at Locust Valley High School; Sean O’Toole, a 12th grade student at Oyster Bay High School; Isabella Costello, a 10th grade student at Bay Shore High School; and Hadeeka Malik, a 10th grade student at Half Hollow Hills High School West.

Avery DeNatale, a student at Locust Valley High School, has dedicated herself to spreading kindness in her community. She volunteers in her school with “Life Skills,” a group in her school that helps special needs students learn skills like how to grocery shop and do laundry. As a result of her volunteer work with “Life Skills,” she has been inspired to become an elementary school teacher.

Sean O’Toole, a student at Oyster Bay High School, was the quarterback of the school’s football team and recognized that Black and immigrant players were subjected to discrimination by the team’s coach. He attended school board meetings and told the principal and athletic director about what was happening which resulted in the removal of the coach.

Isabella Costello, a student at Bay Shore High School, is one of fourteen adopted siblings with special needs. Born with bilateral hearing loss, she has learned to overcome adversity to achieve success. Isabella organized a day at her high school to bring awareness to Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder her younger brother has. She hopes that because of her efforts, her peers and teachers will understand why her brother looks different and treat him with love and respect.

Hadeeka Malik, a student at Half Hollow Hills High School West, is active in her school and community in Girl Scouts, Peer Ambassadors, Peer AIDS and Women’s Empowerment groups. She is also a member of the Junior Board of the Sophia Valsamos Foundation, a nonprofit which seeks to empower youth to take a stand against bullying and embrace each other’s differences. Having herself experienced discrimination, Hadeeka believes in the importance of speaking up against bigotry and hatred.

Peter J. Klein, CFA, CRPS, CAP, the President of the Friedlander Foundation said, “The essays these students have submitted are inspiring. Each student describes a challenge about equality, human rights, tolerance justice — and how they have helped to accomplish it. These students presented through the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County are excellent role models.”

For more information visit HMTC’s website , www.hmtcli.org

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2020 Student Essay Winners Announced

Founder Claire Friedlander wished to promote tolerance and understanding and as such, the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is pleased to sponsor the 5th Annual Life’s WORC and The Family Center for Autism essay contest in conjunction with Life’s WORC and Schneps Communications. All 9th-12th grade students currently enrolled at a public or private school in Queens, Nassau or Suffolk Counties were eligible to participate. Since the contest was launched, the organization has provided about $40,000 in awards to sixteen students.

Over 70 essays were submitted for the topic “How Can I Lead My School and Community to Become A Bully-Free Place For Individuals With Autism and Developmental Disabilities.” Samantha Barbera, a 12th grade student from Brentwood High School, Brentwood, was the First-Place winner receiving $4,000. There was a tie for winning second place with Isabella Sicilian (a 10th grade student from Townsend Harris High School, Flushing) and Samantha Mack (an 11th grade student from Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Merrick.) The four Judges decided to combine the Second Place and Third Place prize money, to award each of the Second Place winners $2,500. Read the winning essays here.

Peter J. Klein, foundation President offers his good wishes and appreciation to the winners. “We would like to congratulate you for stepping up and speaking out on a crisis affecting a number of today’s students: Incidents of bullying and how this can be prevented. The thoughts you and your fellow students expressed through the written words you submitted have given our non-profit organization an abundance of new ideas and fresh perspectives on how to respond to the bullying issue, especially as it relates to people with autism and developmental disabilities,” said Klein.

Life’s WORC/The Family Center For Autism is a Garden City-based non-profit agency established fifty years ago by print media publisher Victoria Schneps with help from broadcast journalist icon Geraldo Rivera. It offers a variety of services and programs to some 2,000 people with developmental disabilities and autism. This includes a network of 43 group residences. Click here for more information.