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03/27/2023 03:49 PM

Education Foundation Continues Entertainment and Investment

Call it comedy for a cause. The North Haven Education Foundation (NHEF) will host a comedy night on April 28, with proceeds going to help fulfill the organization’s mission of supporting North Haven public school programming.

“All of the funds raised will be reinvested into various programmatic initiatives and/or grants that teachers and other faculty members ask us to help fund,” said Benard Pellegrino Jr., chair of the nonprofit. “Projects that could not otherwise be funded through the board’s budget.”

The comedy night will be hosted at the Knights of Columbus Lodge, 2630 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, on Friday, April 28, at 6 p.m.

The stand-up event is the first of its kind for the NHEF, said Pellegrino Jr.

“We did the spelling bee for a number of years, and for a while, we did a trivia night, which was fun,” Pellegrino Jr. said. “They’re all been well-supported events. The spelling bee tended to be more of a family event, with kids from the schools and kids from the high school. Trivia night kind of focused more on adult community members.”

Finding that engaging the community in entertainment-type events can be “a real positive from a fundraising standpoint,” the upcoming comedy night also offered an alternative to other previous events, including children’s and adult spelling bee contests and trivia night.

“It’s a little more on the entertainment side, as opposed to actually participating,” Pellegrino Jr. said. “Some people felt a little inhibited to go up and show people they don’t know how to spell or maybe they don’t know a lot of trivia, but this is maybe a little more of a relaxing fun event. I think it’s appealing to some of the same group of our supporters, but maybe opens it up a little bit into a new market for us.”

Comedy night features sets by Rick Roberts, Howie Mason, and Chris Monty. Roberts and Mason are based in Connecticut, according to Pellegrino Jr.

“That made them a good fit, partly to part of the event,” he said.

The comedy night will be the foundation’s main event for the spring, after which they will shift focus to the end of the school year to create a memorable “senior gift” for this year’s graduates, said Pellegrino Jr. In the past, this has been making commemorative class T-shirts for graduating seniors and photo collages that were spread out across residential front lawns of the entirety of recent graduating classes during the coronavirus pandemic. These projects aim to keep support for North Haven Public Schools as a continuous multigenerational effort.

“The thought there is trying to create a strong alumni base so that as our graduating seniors go off to college and hopefully come back into the community, [we hope] that they’re cognizant of what the Ed. Foundation has done throughout their secondary education level,” said Pellegrino Jr. “Hopefully [they] support us the way we’ve supported them.”

Since its establishment in 2005, the NHEF has supported numerous education and community initiatives and regularly receives new requests for evaluation monthly. The foundation’s criteria are anchored on whether new programs can enhance education for students attending North Haven Public Schools in new, innovative, and inclusive ways.

Pellegrino Jr. spoke of some of those recent initiatives, which included extending education at the town’s three elementary schools and North Haven Middle School outside the classroom with the necessary infrastructure.

“One of the larger initiatives last year was the elementary schools and the middle school had come to us saying, ‘we want to try to increase outdoor activities and education, and learning activities outside, and we have recess and lunch we’re trying to use, weather permitting, our outside facilities.’”

In response, NHEF was able to purchase three metal tables for each school that would have the durability to sustain bad weather and give students more opportunities to be outside.

The project, in total, cost $15,000, according to Pellegrino Jr., and also reigned in the support from local businesses, as is another component in supporting schools.

NHEF also previously partnered with the North Haven PTA Special Education Committee to provide financial support for materials as part of the district’s special education services and also helped monetarily prop up both the science fair and Invention Convention at the Green Acre School. Annual giving programs for donations have also been a part of raising funds for propping up educational programs and initiatives.

All these efforts have snowballed into significant results for public education in North Haven and its community over the past 18 years. The NHEF is “approaching $1 million reinvested into the community since 2005,” according to Pellegrino Jr., who said that figure is expected to be reached by sometime next year.

Comedy night is on Friday, April 28, at 6 p.m. at the North Haven Knights of Columbus, 2630 Whitney Avenue, Hamden. Tickets are $30 each.

For more information or to purchase tickets for comedy night, visit