Davitts establish $1M endowed scholarship at RIT

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Mark and Maureen Davitt’s support for students at Rochester Institute of Technology continues through a $1 million endowed scholarship.

The Mark and Maureen Davitt Endowed Scholarship will provide financial assistance to students pursuing studies in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, officials say. The gift aims to help students who have graduated from private elementary schools in the city of Rochester. 

“Education is a powerful tool for empowering individuals and transforming communities,” says Mark Davitt, founder and former CEO of ConServe. “Through this scholarship, Maureen and I hope to provide opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to pursue their academic and professional goals in STEM fields.”

Maureen and Mark Davitt (Photo courtesy: RIT)

The Davitts’ focus on education is visible in the community, through contributions to Nativity Preparatory Academy, Hope Hall School and others. The Mark and Maureen Davitt Graduate Education Endowed Scholarship, established in 2018 at RIT, for instance, helps graduate students from underrepresented populations to pursue advanced degrees.

In 2021, the first two Davitt scholars from that $500,000 donation, Unique Fair-Smith and Tymoni Correa-Buntley, earned their graduate degrees. 

“Their commitment to supporting education aligns with RIT’s mission of fostering innovation and academic excellence,” Phil Castleberry, vice president for university advancement at RIT, says of the Davitts. “We are deeply grateful for their partnership and generosity.”

Across RIT, scholarships play an instrumental role in providing students with opportunities to learn. More than $330 million is awarded annually in RIT grants and scholarships.

For Deon Jeffrey, Victor Sanchez, and Abdul Macauley, the Truesdale DREAM Charter School Scholarship offered much needed help. Established by RIT alumnus and trustee Don Truesdale in 2022, the gift helped these DREAM Charter School graduates from New York City.

“Scholarship support is very important as a first-generation college student,” says Jeffrey, who studies packaging engineering.

A scholarship established by former RIT president Bill Destler and his wife, Rebecca Johnson, assists  entering full-time first-year students from Rochester’s public and charter schools. The Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars program last year expanded to include learners from the Urban-Suburban Interdistrict Transfer Program. Admitted students are eligible for full tuition covered through a combination of RIT scholarships, and state and federal need-based grants, officials  say.

Scholarship awardees are required to participate in the division of Diversity and Inclusion’s Summer Experience, a residential summer program that offers one-on-one academic coaching, academic skills enhancement, a support network, and the opportunity to earn up to six RIT college credits. The program was founded in 2010 and has helped some 270 high school graduates from the city of Rochester. Each class has roughly 22 students.

In March, Constellation Brands upped its endowed scholarship to increase diversity in computing. This scholarship, which began in 2021, supports women, students of color and first-generation students in the Golisano College of Computing and Information Science. Now, students at the Saunders College of Business can also apply. 

“Constellation Brands is dedicated to cultivating a diverse workforce that authentically represents the vibrant tapestry of our consumers and communities,” said Mark Brown, manager of acquisition and university relations at Constellation Brands, at the time that the scholarship was enhanced. “By supporting education and empowering underrepresented groups, we not only foster stronger recruiting outcomes, but also open doors to unique faculty collaborations. This endeavor isn’t just about giving back—it’s about shaping a future where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive, enriching both our company and the communities we serve.”

More recently, RIT students Sarah Hong and Damien Sorvillo were named recipients of the Isaac L. Jordan Sr. Endowed Scholarship. Jordan served as the first chairperson of RIT’s President’s Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion in the 1990s. The award honors his legacy and work in the area of diversity, inclusion and pluralism.

“Having my background of coming from a low-income family I understand that everyone faces challenges, big and small,” says Sorvillo, recipient of the freshman Jordan scholarship. “It could just be needing help with homework or just needing someone to talk to. That is why I believe in offering my support or help whenever possible. I am constantly working on myself to be someone that others can rely on, whether it’s lending a helping hand or simply being a listening ear. I wish to make sure that everyone knows that they are not alone in their struggles.”

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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