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December 31, 1980- July 6, 2002


On July 6, 2002, Russell Ferber tragically died in a car accident at the age of 21, just as he was about to graduate with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. A year later, The Russell Ferber Foundation was founded to provide a living

legacy – funding programs that assist young people who lack the financial resources to successfully

follow a path that parallels aspects of Russell’s too short life. To date, the Foundation has focused on

three beneficiaries:

C-CAP, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP): The Foundation has established The

Russell Ferber Memorial Scholarship through C-CAP, a non-profit organization which has created

professional culinary education programs in inner-city high schools. In six venues across the country,

C-CAP develops curriculum, provides teacher training, secures equipment and outfits classrooms into

working kitchens, while simultaneously arranging internships with top restaurants. C-CAP students

participate in a fiercely competitive process for scholarships. One of the highest awards granted in

New York is The Russell Ferber Memorial Scholarship, a full scholarship in the Baking and Pastry

Arts Program at the CIA. Our first scholar, Dominique Campbell graduated in 2006, worked at

Walt Disney World, returned to the CIA for her BA degree (’09) and works as lead pastry chef at

Citifield. Melissa Montalbano (now Falgiano) graduated in ’08, worked at Olana in New York City

and, in addition to spending time with her three sons, has a private cake baking business. Santo

Saitta graduated in April ’10, worked at Pasticceria Bruno and at Boulud Sud. He competed in the

Junior Pastry World Cup in Rimini, Italy, finishing fifth in the world! He currently runs Patrizia

Restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey and is the proud father of two. Jessie Kuznitz graduated in

January 2014, continued at the CIA to complete her B.A., graduated Summa cum Laude and worked

at Maison Kayser until she injured her back and, unfortunately, is still unable to work. Sara

Montesdeoca had a baby girl in December ’22 and is working at private events. Nicole Carlini

graduated in 2018, worked at Dominique Ansel Bakery (think cronut!) and is currently working at

Hudson Valley Fois Gras. Jahqyad Austin graduated in December 2020. Earned a prestigious

fellowship at the James Beard Foundation and is working at his ongoing business, Jahqyad’s Twist.

Leslie Villava graduated from the CIA in December ’22 and is part of the Pastry team at Le Rock in

Rockefeller Center. Reese Orakwue is currently enrolled at the CIA.

Culinary Institute of America (CIA): The Foundation is thrilled that the Russell Ferber

Scholarship at the CIA is endowed! The Foundation continues to donate funds for an annual stipend

to students who complete their externship obligations with the highest rating for professionalism, a

quality very much respected by Russell, and the hallmark of his approach to culinary activities.

Village Community School (VCS): Village Community School, Russell’s wondrous K-8 school,

was unable to provide the support needed for students like Russell with distinct learning disabilities.

VCS' Russell Ferber Memorial Fund has been an important resource in helping students with

learning differences in their struggle to succeed, funding educational and psychological evaluations,

language therapy, outside tutoring, additional part-time teacher work and support in confronting the

language and writing skills needed to transition to high school. A number of students have been

helped immeasurably by the Fund.

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