Tag Archives: Staples Tuition Grants

Remembering Dr. Al Beasley

Dr. Albert Beasley — a longtime and much-loved pediatrician, educator, civic volunteer, and pioneering black physician — died yesterday at Norwalk Hospital, 2 weeks after being admitted following a fall at home. He was 98 years old.

Almost exactly 2 years ago — on June 20, 2018 — “06880” honored Dr. Beasley as an Unsung Hero. I wrote:

Last week, Staples Tuition Grants handed out over $300,000 in scholarships to more than 100 graduating seniors, and high school alums already in college.

It was a warm, wonderful evening — a celebration of very hard work by the recipients, as well as all who make the grants possible.

But the highlight may have been the keynote speech, by Dr. Albert Beasley.

Speaking without notes — and without missing a beat — the 96-year-old retired pediatrician talked about the importance of STG, and what it means to him personally. One of the oldest named awards — initiated 45 years ago — honors his late wife and fellow pediatrician, Dr. Jean Beasley.

After the Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, pediatrician Dr. Albert Beasley and his wife Janet (3rd and 4th from left) posed with 4 former patients (from left): Nicole Greenberg Donovan, Dan Woog, Dan Donovan and Lynn Untermeyer Miller. (Photo/Paddy Donovan)

In his 65 years in Westport, Al Beasley has watched the town grow from a small artists’ colony, through the baby boom, into a suburb filled with businessmen and Wall Street executives.

But he has seen it all through a unique perspective, and with a background different from most people who live here. He shared some of that last week too, in his low-key but inspiring way.

Al’s grandfather, a Harvard-educated Boston attorney, helped found the NAACP.  Al’s father also went to Harvard – and became a doctor.  His mother graduated from Radcliffe. Those were proud accomplishments, in an era when educational opportunities for black men and women were limited.

Al’s parents wanted him to have a well-rounded education. He got one, at the Walden School and Columbia  College. He married a high school friend, Jean.  Both earned medical degrees – Al from New York University. Both became pediatricians.

As a captain in the Air Force during the Korean War – based in Houston — Al first experienced overt prejudice. But he persevered, and in 1953 the Beasleys moved to Westport. He wanted his children to experience the same freedom he’d found at the Walden School. The Beasleys rented a home on 11 acres, for $90 a month. They were one of only 5 or so black families in town.

They bought land from a fellow physician, Mal Beinfield. The Beasleys had trouble getting a mortgage – the banks’ excuse was “they did not like contemporary dwellings.” But Westport Bank & Trust Company president Einar Anderson said to the Beasleys’ request for $20,000: “There’s no problem.  Let us know when you want it.”

At the 2014 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, Dr. Al Beasley posed with Megumi Asada, a graduating senior who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Memorial Award. Megumi was considering a career in medicine.

In addition to his professional accomplishments – private practice as a pediatrician; co-founder of Willows Pediatrics; associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, and an emeritus staff member at Norwalk Hospital – Al immersed himself in community work.

He was a pediatrician for the Intercommunity Camp; a member of the Selectman’s Committee for Youth and Human Services; a board of directors member for the United Way; member of the scholar selection committee of A Better Chance of Westport; trustee of Earthplace, where he organized the Green Earth series on  health and the environment.

Al’s wife Jean died in 1973.  Six years later he married Janet, a native of Berlin and a survivor of a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

Al says:  “When Jean and I moved to Westport in 1953, it was a magical town. It opened its arms to us, welcomed us, and made us feel special.”

Al adds:  “My birth certificate said ‘colored.’  Then the preferred term changed to ‘Negro.’  Later it was ‘black,’ then ‘African American.’  I am a man of color, but I like to be accepted for what I have to offer.  The town has done exactly that.”

Looking back on his career, Al says,“I’m an activist.  I tried to give my utmost to the community, and I think the community appreciates that.  This is a wonderful town.  I thank everyone who entrusted their most precious commodities – their infants, their children and their young people – to me.”

And we thank Dr. Al Beasley, this week’s Unsung — but Very Deserving — Longtime Hero.

Dr. Beasley is survived by his son Scott, and daughter Jean. He was predeceased by his first wife, Dr. Jean Beasley, and his second wife, Janet Beasley.

COVID-19 Roundup: Beach Grills; Granola Bar; Tuition Grants; More


The Parks & Recreation Department announced last week that Compo Beach parking lots may open May 15 — but grills and picnic tables will not be available.

They weren’t kidding.

Here’s South Beach, this weekend. Who knew those concrete barbecue grills were portable?

(Photo/Dan Woog)


Three weeks ago, Staples Tuition Grants sent out a special request. With COVID-19 making college less affordable for more seniors and graduates, they hoped to raise another $50,000. A small group of generous donors had already pledged a similar amount.

Westporters rose to the challenge. The $100,000 goal was met — and surpassed. Funds will be distributed to students who applied before the March deadline, qualified for grants, and have demonstrated additional hardship attributable to the pandemic.

“For many of our students, this may make the difference between finishing college and dropping out. For others, it will enable them to start college on time instead of waiting till a year or more after graduating from Staples,” STG says.

“We are extremely grateful to our friends and neighbors in Westport and beyond, who generously came through in this time of stress. This is another sign that we really do live in a strong, supportive community, and that people really do care about those who need their help.

“Donations ranged from small to large, and came from old friends and new ones. These contributions went a long way to make up for the slowdown in donations and the damage to our small endowment resulting from the present crisis. As a result we will give more assistance to our eligible applicants than we have ever been able to do before, certainly a much-needed piece of good news in these difficult times.”

STG raises funds all year long. If you missed the initial appeal, or would like to contribute again, click here.


The Granola Bar is back — bit by bit.

They’re now open every day, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Orders can be placed online, via the app (“The Granola Bar”) or phone (203-349-5202).

They’ve launched dinners that can be ordered via the app or Instagram, as well as TGB@Home: $65 kits for fire chicken/veggies, tacos or shawarma, as well as vegan lasagna.


Ariana Napier is organizing a food drive for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

You can drop food and/or personal care items (diapers, wipes, sanitary pads, etc.) in bins in her driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane).

Items most needed include cereal (all types, any kind), peanut butter and jelly (no glass), mac and cheese (box), canned meals and soups, and boxed meals (any kind).

She plans on weekly trips, and hopes Westporters can donate regularly. Even one or two items helps.

She will also pick up from your driveway. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


In her 70s, Stephanie Bass embarked on a new career: stand-up comedy.

She’s good! And although her regular haunts like Gotham Comedy Club are closed, she’s staying sharp. Every day, she posts a new sign outside her home off Compo Hill.

Here’s yesterday’s. Check out the beer. Preach!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

And finally … let’s end the weekend, and kick off the new week, with this spot-on ditty:

Staples Tuition Grants Announces Covid-19 Community Challenge

One month ago, Staples Tuition Grants was wrapping up its 2020 efforts.

For 77 years they’ve helped high school seniors — and graduates — close the gap between the cost of higher education, and what they could afford.

Applications were in. Interviews were scheduled. In June there would be a ceremony at which over 100 students would receive over $300,000 in grants.

Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. Suddenly, life got much tougher for Westporters. Loss of income was compounded by plunging portfolios — many of which included college funds.

In response to this urgent need, STG has partnered with a small group of generous donors. Together, they have pledged $50,000 to establish the STG COVID-19 Community Challenge.

Now they’re challenging Westporters — and Staples grads around the country — to meet (or exceed) an additional $50,000 in donations.  The goal is $100,000.

All funds raised in this campaign will go to this year’s STG student grant recipients. They’ll supplement whatever other grants will be awarded in June, for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

STG says:

You know our grant recipients. They are your neighbors, babysitters, camp counselors, lifeguards, baristas, and local restaurant and retail store staff.

Many lost those jobs — this summer and beyond — and live with a parent or grandparent who also lost income or college savings through this crisis. For most of our grant recipients, their ability to pursue or continue higher education this fall will be determined by the amount of financial aid they receive in the next few weeks.

The STG COVID-19 Community Challenge is your opportunity to help! If you have a current college student receiving a refund on tuition, room and board, please consider donating a portion to this effort. If you planned to attend a fundraiser or charity event this spring that was canceled, please consider directing part of what you had planned to give to this challenge.

This is our opportunity as a strong and united community to show Staples graduates attending college next year that Westport supports them.

Click here to donate to the STG Covid-19 Community Challenge. STG also accepts checks, made out to “Staples Tuition Grants” and sent to PO Box 5159 , Westport, CT 06881-5159. Include your name as you’d like it to appear, your address and email, and write “Community Challenge” in the memo field.

A highlight of the annual Staples Tuition Grants ceremony is when recipients meet people with a fund named after a loved one. Several years ago Dr. Al Beasley posed with Megumi Asada, who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Award. Megumi has gone on to a career in medicine.

50 Years Later, Staples Grads Give Back

Debbie Hooper Fisher is a proud Staples graduate.

And she’s part of a family of fellow alums.

Her mother, Rita Hooper, graduated in 1942. Her brothers Jeff and Mike were in the classes of 1968 and ’76, respectively. Debbie’s daughter Kimberly Fisher was in the Class of ’96. Her son Raymond Warren — Debbie’s grandson — is in the Class of 2022.

Not every classmate from Debbie’s year — 1969 — has that pedigree. But many still feel strong ties to their alma mater.

Nearly 100 members made it back recently for the 50th reunion. Wherever they live now, they loved being back in their home town.

Yet amid all the reminiscing, partying and dancing — hey, it was the ’60s — the class went about the serious business of giving something back.

When Debbie’s daughter graduated, she received a Staples Tuition Grants scholarship. That helped her attend Columbia University. She went on to the Executive MBA program, and now serves on Verizon’s corporate strategy team.

Debbie knows the importance of STG. So do her classmates. It was easy to convince them to run a fundraiser for the organization, which since 1943 — the year after Debbie’s mother earned her diploma — has helped seniors and graduates with college expenses.

This was not even the first time the class helped out. Ten years ago, they donated $1,969 (get it?) to STG.

This time, they held a raffle. Prizes included a Woodstock poster (remember, they’re the Class of 1969).

Tickets were $20. Many members gave more. (They deliberately chose an inexpensive venue — Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach — to keep up-front expenses down.)

The other day, the class presented STG with a check for $2,500.

Staples Tuition Grants board members, Class of 1969 representatives, and the traditional oversized check. From left: Alex Shook, Ed Hulina (STG), Jeff Allen, Tom Krygier, Debbie Hooper Fisher, Mark Bunger, Peter Krieg, Iain Bruce (STG).

They challenge other reunion classes to give back too, to the group that for 76 years has helped so many Staples students go to college.

They want you to at least match their gift. And if other classes exceed it, they’ll be delighted.

Hey, it’s the Class of ’69.

Peace.

(For more information on Staples Tuition Grants — or to contribute — click here.)

Staples Tuition Grants: It’s A Family Affair

This month, parents in the Westport school district may notice a story from Staples Tuition Grants in their weekly PTA newsletter.

Since 1943, STG has provided college scholarship help to students with financial need. Last year, 113 June graduates and alumni already in college received grants totaling $304,000.

“Your donation opens a whole new door to my future,” is one quote in the newsletter.

Another — the child of a single parent — writes: “My mom does everything in her power to provide for my sister and me. She never had the opportunity to go to college, so this chance to attend a 4-year university is a wish I have always wanted for both of us.”

A third STG awardee notes that at her college, very few students have the ongoing support of their home communities.

These newsletter items run in conjunction with Staples Tuition Grants’ drive to help fund the Westport Families Scholarship Award.

Many STG grants are named for individuals. This one is funded by all 8 Westport schools’ PTAs.

But any family can help too (hence the “Families Scholarship” name).

Some of the awardees at a Staples Tuition Grants ceremony.

Despite Westport’s demographics, plenty of students here need aid to afford college. For over 75 years, Staples Tuition Grants has provided that help.

They’re a low-key organization. But they make differences in countless lives. You can help. Respond to your PTA newsletter. Or (even easier) click here. Checks can be sent to Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881.

Unsung Hero #53

Last week, Staples Tuition Grants handed out over $300,000 in scholarships to more than 100 graduating seniors, and high school alums already in college.

It was a warm, wonderful evening — a celebration of very hard work by the recipients, as well as all who make the grants possible.

But the highlight may have been the keynote speech, by Dr. Albert Beasley.

Speaking without notes — and without missing a beat — the 90-plus-year-old retired pediatrician talked about the importance of STG, and what it means to him personally. One of the oldest named awards — initiated 45 years ago — honors his late wife and fellow pediatrician, Dr. Jean Beasley.

After the Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, pediatrician Dr. Albert Beasley and his wife Janet (3rd and 4th from left) posed with 4 former patients (from left): Nicole Greenberg Donovan, Dan Woog, Dan Donovan and Lynn Untermeyer Miller. (Photo/Paddy Donovan)

In his 65 years in Westport, Al Beasley has watched the town grow from a small artists’ colony, through the baby boom, into a suburb filled with businessmen and Wall Street executives.

But he has seen it all through a unique perspective, and with a background different from most people who live here. He shared some of that last week too, in his low-key but inspiring way.

Al’s grandfather, a Harvard-educated Boston attorney, helped found the NAACP.  Al’s father also went to Harvard – and became a doctor.  His mother graduated from Radcliffe. Those were proud accomplishments, in an era when educational opportunities for black men and women were limited.

Al’s parents wanted him to have a well-rounded education. He got one, at the Walden School and Columbia  College. He married a high school friend, Jean.  Both earned medical degrees – Al from New York University. Both became pediatricians.

As a captain in the Air Force during the Korean War – based in Houston — Al first experienced overt prejudice. But he persevered, and in 1953 the Beasleys moved to Westport. He wanted his children to experience the same freedom he’d found at the Walden School. The Beasleys rented a home on 11 acres, for $90 a month. They were one of only 5 or so black families in town.

They bought land from a fellow physician, Mal Beinfield. The Beasleys had trouble getting a mortgage – the banks’ excuse was “they did not like contemporary dwellings.” But Westport Bank & Trust Company president Einar Anderson said to the Beasleys’ request for $20,000: “There’s no problem.  Let us know when you want it.”

Four years ago at the Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, Dr. Al Beasley posed with Megumi Asada, a graduating senior who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Memorial Award. Megumi was considering a career in medicine.

In addition to his professional accomplishments – private practice as a pediatrician; co-founder of Willows Pediatrics; associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, and an emeritus staff member at Norwalk Hospital – Al immersed himself in community work.

He was a pediatrician for the Intercommunity Camp; a member of the Selectman’s Committee for Youth and Human Services; a board of directors member for the United Way; member of the scholar selection committee of A Better Chance of Westport; trustee of Earthplace, where he organized the Green Earth series on  health and the environment.

Al’s wife Jean died in 1973.  Six years later he married Janet, a native of Berlin and a survivor of a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

Al says:  “When Jean and I moved to Westport in 1953, it was a magical town. It opened its arms to us, welcomed us, and made us feel special.”

Al adds:  “My birth certificate said ‘colored.’  Then the preferred term changed to ‘Negro.’  Later it was ‘black,’ then ‘African American.’  I am a man of color, but I like to be accepted for what I have to offer.  The town has done exactly that.”

Looking back on his career, Al says,“I’m an activist.  I tried to give my utmost to the community, and I think the community appreciates that.  This is a wonderful town.  I thank everyone who entrusted their most precious commodities – their infants, their children and their young people – to me.”

And we thank Dr. Al Beasley, this week’s Unsung — but Very Deserving — Longtime Hero.

Making The “Case” For Saugatuck El

Last night, Staples Tuition Grants handed out $304,000 in scholarships to 113 high school seniors, and graduates already in college.

The event marked 75 years of STG financial help. It’s always uplifting and warm — a celebration of promise, purpose and community.

As usual, the Staples library was packed with recipients, donors, and proud family members and teachers.

But this time, there were younger faces.

The first-ever Saugatuck Elementary School Community Award was given. It’s a project of the school’s Caring Council — 4th and 5th graders who volunteer for philanthropic causes — and they were there to see “their” honoree.

They and their classmates walked a combined 2,501 miles this year, in a fundraising effort. They mapped their miles “across the USA,” with “stops” at universities attended by their teachers.

Caring Council members who attended last night’s ceremony were thrilled to meet awardee Case Videler. An SES graduate himself — now headed to the University of Delaware — he embodies the Caring Council mission.

Case Videler, and members of the Saugatuck Elementary School Caring Council.

Saugatuck El and Staples Tuition Grants share even more ties than Case, though.

This year’s 13th annual walk-a-thon kicked off with a speech by DARE officer Ned Batlin — a former STG recipient.

And a powerful video celebrating the organization’s 75th anniversary was created by Westport’s own Doug Tirola — a former SES parent.

It was a night that the 113 scholarship recipients will always remember.

And one that some future grads — members of Staples High’s classes of 2025 and 2026 — won’t forget either.

(For more on Staples Tuition Grants, click here.)

Staples Tuition Grants: 75 Years In 8 Minutes

Staples Tuition Grants turns 75 years old this year.

To celebrate, the organization — which last year provided over $300,000 in scholarships to 115 Staples High School seniors and graduates with financial need — threw a fundraising party this month.

The event met its goal: over $75,000 in donations. (For 75 years — get it?).

One of the night’s highlights was a video. Produced by talented Westport filmmaker (and Staples grad) Doug Tirola, it featured well-known residents and SHS alums like Christopher Jones, Justin Paul, Ned Batlin, Linda Bruce, Jessica Branson, Miggs Burroughs, Anne Hardy, Dan Donovan and Maggie Mudd. They offered insights into their own scholarships and those named for loved ones, plus thoughts on the importance of college and life.

The video — filled joy and heartache, humor and love — is well worth the 8 minutes. Enjoy!

(For more information on Staples Tuition Grants, or to donate, click here.)

Celebrating 75 Years Of Staples Tuition Grants

In 1943, the Staples High School PTA gave $100 to a group of Westporters. They in turn found a worthy recipient, who would otherwise be unable to attend college.

With that donation, Staples Tuition Grants was born.

In 2017 — nearly 75 years later — the organization provided $300,000 in assistance to over 100 recipients. They were graduating seniors, and college students who had received previous grants. They’re attending public and private universities, junior colleges and vocational schools.

They supplement their grants with jobs. They work hard. They’re grateful that college — exponentially more expensive than ever — can be a reality.

Some of the awardees at the 2015 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony.

STG is rightfully proud that for three-quarters of a century, they’ve provided millions of dollars to tens of thousands of students.

So they’re throwing a party. The theme — naturally — is “75 years of college.”

Set for Saturday, March 10 (7 p.m., Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church), the casual, fun event features college-ish food (pizza, burgers), drink (keg beer, wine) and music from (most) attendees’ college years. There could be ping pong and foosball too.

Party-goers are encouraged to wear their school colors or logowear. A 1955 recipient has already RSVP-ed. Organizers hope other former recipients will attend too.

The cost is $75. (It’s a fundraiser, obviously.) Organizers are soliciting 75 business sponsors, at $100 each (in honor of that first-ever grant).

Gault Energy and Melissa & Doug have signed on as lead sponsors.

Igor Pikayzen — a 2005 Staples grad, and STG recipient — will play. Westport filmmaker Doug Tirola — whose father was on the STG board — is making a special video. Former STG recipients Ned Batlin and Trevor Lally will give brief remarks. So will Miggs Burroughs, who designed the logo.

Everyone — Staples grads, and those of every other high school; college alumni and people who never went; anyone who ever got a scholarship, and anyone who did not — is invited to the 75th anniversary celebration.

Let’s make sure that Staples Tuition Grants is still doing great deeds in 2093 — 75 years from now.

(Click here for tickets to the 75th anniversary celebration, and more information. If you’re a former recipient and would like to be taped for a video, or are interested in helping sponsor the event, email poley@optonline.net.)

Staples Tuition Grants: The Story Behind The Tagline

Since 1943, Staples Tuition Grants has helped ensure that no Staples High School graduate is denied a college education because of financial need. The all-volunteer organization has awarded millions of dollars, and impacted thousands of lives.

Its recipients are grateful. So are its donors — many of whom contribute to funds named for teachers, classmates or family members who have died.

Some of the awardees at the 2015 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony.

But many other people who could help — or be helped by — STG stay uninvolved. The reason: Its name.

Some folks think “Staples Tuition Grants” help pay for tuition to the high school. Others wonder why a public school needs money in the first place.

When Lee Saveliff became donor co-chair 3 years ago, she wanted to spread the word that Staples tuition grants actually help graduating seniors and students already in college (and vocation schools).

She and co-chair Kate Andrews ramped up publicity. But they kept searching for new ways to send the message.

At last, they’ve got one. It’s spectacularly simple: A tagline.

From now on, the logo and all print material will say: “Staples Tuition Grants. Closing the college tuition gap for graduates since 1943.”

It’s simple. It’s clear.

And it’s rolling out already.

The tagline appears on publicity for a fundraising event. This Saturday (May 6, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Indulge by Mersene will donate a portion of all profits to STG.

Mersene’s Railroad Place store is a fantastic place for unique items — including “06880”-themed pillows, apparel and more. They’re perfect for (hint, hint) graduation gifts.

Mersene is doing her part for Staples Tuition Grants.

And on Saturday, if customers ask what STG is, she just has to point to the new logo.

An “06880” pillow at Indulge by Mersene.

(Can’t make it to Indulge by Mersene on Saturday? You can still contribute! Click here, or mail a check to Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.)