A true embodiment of living by example, Manhattan Coordinator of Social Studies and Student Council Advisor Laura Bellizzi gives back to her community in her free time as a volunteer for BUILD NYC, an entrepreneurship program that serves high school students in under-resourced communities throughout New York City. For student council service initiatives, Ms. Bellizzi also partners with NY Common Pantry, which helps support the more than 2.1 million New Yorkers who rely on the city’s emergency food programs.
The BUILD NYC program teaches students how to establish and operate a successful business, with mentorship spanning from product development to manufacturing to sales. During sales pitches, students share their business proposals with a panel of volunteers in hopes of securing an investment (Imagine Shark Tank for teens.). “As a panelist, my role is to listen to student presentations, provide positive, constructive feedback, and determine who will receive an investment to grow their business,” Ms. Bellizzi explained.
As evidenced by her work with this program, Ms. Bellizzi is passionate about helping students find their voices and share their ideas with confidence. “BUILD helps students prepare for a future career in the business world by developing their communication, collaboration, problem solving, executive functioning, and innovation skills,” she noted. “One of the organization’s biggest goals is to promote social equity and create more diverse work environments in the field of business.” In fact, Ms. Bellizzi’s commitment to BUILD NYC has inspired two of her colleagues, MMS teachers Liz Cerabino and Casey Amos, to volunteer for the organization as well.
“Our primary goals within the Student Council are to promote kindness, to teach students how to be good citizens, and to give students a platform to share their voices.”
In her role as advisor to the MMS student council, Ms. Bellizzi imparts upon students a drive to serve their community, both internal and external to Windward. “Our primary goals within the Student Council are to promote kindness, to teach students how to be good citizens, and to give students a platform to share their voices,” Ms. Bellizzi shared.
Although circumstances related to COVID-19 necessitated postponing certain community service projects, Ms. Bellizzi assisted student council members in serving Windward in other ways, from advocating for their peers by presenting initiatives to the School’s administrative team, such as an eighth-grade legacy project, to spreading school spirit by brainstorming ideas for spirit week, to highlighting historical figures during morning announcements for Black History Month and Women’s History Month, for example.
As pandemic-related limitations have lifted, Ms. Bellizzi has helped the MMS student council resume community service initiatives. This spring, student council members will be engaging in an appreciation project, writing cards and letters to essential workers within the neighborhood, in pharmacies, grocery stores, and coffee shops. “We regularly rely on the services they provide, and they’ve played such an important role in helping support us and keeping morale high,” Ms. Bellizzi said. Last fall and this winter, the student council also facilitated a Thanksgiving food drive and an oatmeal drive to benefit the NY Common Pantry.
By modeling service to others, Ms. Bellizzi inspires her students to do the same, empowering them to effect positive change within their communities.