Four Los Angeles High School Students to Study the Renaissance in Italy for One Month

LOS ANGELES (May 29, 2013) - The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA has announced the winners of its annual essay competition. Based on the Renaissance, the contest for public high school in the 11th-grade was launched this year for the first time in Los Angeles, in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Winners will spend July in Florence studying the Renaissance and traveling throughout Italy.

Superintendent John Deasy’s leadership was key to bringing to the LAUSD this program, which focuses on humanism, the legacy of classic Greek and Roman culture and the direct link of the Renaissance with the Enlightenment, the American Revolution and modern times.

The two schools selected by the LAUSD are The Ambassador School of Global Leadership and the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts. The competition is open to all 11th grade students attending both schools in tandem with five schools in New York City, where the program was introduced three years ago. The Los Angeles competition winners are: Brian Kim from the Ambassador School of Global Leadership; and Valentina Dibs, Hannah Lansill and José Lopez from the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts

The competition is voluntary and students receive academic credit. Students choose one of three Renaissance-related questions provided by the Foundation and write a 1,000-word essay. The Foundation’s Scientific Committee, comprised of New York University and Columbia University professors of history and Italian studies, reviews finalists’ essays and selects the winners. (The three 2013 questions, required reading lists and competition guidelines are attached.)

A total of 14 winning students will study at the Villa La Pietra, the NYU campus in Florence, accompanied by three of their own teachers as chaperones (two of whom are from the Los Angeles schools) and will be joined by a tour director in Florence. The group will visit Milan, Rome, Venice and Florence’s environs focusing on art, history, language, literature and science. They will return home with their Common Application essay for college admissions completed and will be given a Certificate of Completion by the Foundation to supplement their college applications.

For these ambitious, curious, and hardworking 11th graders, the competition requires no previous expertise on the Renaissance other than what the students have learned in European history; but applicants must be willing to read assigned texts and conduct independent research in order to craft an original and thoughtful essay.

“We are delighted to partner with the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation. I applaud this program and the immeasurable learning experience it provides for our eleventh-grade competition winners. I am also thrilled that two teachers from Los Angeles will be part of this intense trip and am confident their teaching will be enriched from their Italian travels,” Superintendent Deasy said.

“For these talented winners, this is a life-changing journey,” said Mario Calvo-Platero, Chairman of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, USA. “We are honored to be able to provide this extraordinary opportunity for these exceptional eleventh graders on the threshold of their college applications.”

The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA is very grateful to Bank of America for its support of the Los Angeles competition. “These exceptional students have bright futures ahead of them, and Bank of America is honored to be involved in a partnership that offers a once in a lifetime opportunity such as this,” said Garrett Gin, Senior Market Manager, Bank of America. “This sponsorship is just one aspect of our continued commitment to connecting with Los Angeles organizations to empower local youth through employment and educational opportunities.” The Foundation is also pleased to recognize the following corporate donors: Estēe Lauder Companies, Chrysler, Brooks Brothers, Intesa SanPaolo, Mr. C Beverly Hills and On Demand Books, LLC.

About the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA: The mission of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA, in this era of globalization, is to preserve the values of openness and creativity of the Renaissance, one of the pillars of the Enlightenment and of modern Western societies. The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA was established in 2010 in New York to raise American awareness and support for the exhibits and cultural activities of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

The foundation’s mission is to promote, in a contemporary context, some of the key values of Western society which are rooted in the Renaissance. The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA currently supports two major initiatives: the Renaissance Man or Woman of the Year Award and Palazzo Strozzi High School Renaissance Award.

Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi: Italy’s first autonomous public-private foundation was established in 2006. Founded by the City of Florence, the Province of Florence, the Florentine Chamber of Commerce and an association of private partners (APPS), it is chaired by Lorenzo Bini Smaghi. Under the leadership of Director James M. Bradburne, its multi-faced mission has been to bring an international approach to creating culture in Florence; to provide a platform for experimentation; to provide a place for debate and discussion; to create new synergies with other cultural players, and to be a catalyst for cultural change.

Associazione Partners Palazzo Strozzi: This independent foundation in Florence is chaired by Leonardo Ferragamo. Among its founding members and partners are individuals and private institutions united to contribute to the success of one of the original private/public philanthropic initiatives in Italy. Its mission: to support the Foundazione Palazzo Strozzi through private involvement and with an overarching goal to promote art and culture for the goodwill of Florence.

Contact: Eleonora Cavazzini (212) 888-3484 or Tom Waldman (213) 241-6766