SUMMIT, NJ - Summit-based non-profit, Student/Partner Alliance (S/PA) recognized three honorees for their significant and long-time support at the organization’s Annual Holiday Party on January 6.

With over 240 people in attendance, several inner-city high school students came together with their partners and mentors from several surrounding communities, including Summit, Short Hills, Chatham, Maplewood, Westfield, and Montclair.  

The evening was highlighted by recognition of three very important supporters of the Student/Partner Alliance (S/PA) program and its students. S/PA Board President and Summit resident, Emmett Daly, hosted the awards segment of the evening, personally recognizing the first awardee, Joseph Della Rosa with the “Community Spirit Award” for his “generous and unwavering support of many students from our surrounding communities, giving these young men and women the opportunity to get a college preparatory education.” Believing that you can make a real difference in the life of economically disadvantaged youth through education, Joe and his wife Cheryl of Short Hills have been instrumental in making this dream possible for dozens of students since the earliest days of S/PA. With close to 100% high school graduation rate and subsequent college admission for these students, the positive impact on these families and their communities cannot be underestimated.

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Deborah J. Barker of Short Hills, received the “Lifetime Commitment Award” for her support of S/PA, at many levels, throughout the ‘lifetime’ of the organization. Debbie was involved with the initial development of the mentoring component of S/PA, spending countless hours mentoring and counseling students and new mentors alike. Many students attribute their college acceptance and choice to Debbie’s tutelage. She was part of the original Board of Trustees and served as Board Treasurer for many years. Debbie continues her financial and mentoring support to S/PA students today.

The “Dedication to Education” Award went to the Turrell FundMary Holz, an Associate Director at Turrell, was present to accept the award.  Turrell’s consistent financial support since 1998, has provided S/PA with approximately $450,000 in funding. Based in Montclair, The Turrell Fund is one of the largest foundations in the area. The fund directly provides for or fosters the creation and delivery of quality developmental and educational services to at-risk children in several New Jersey communities.

A buffet-style dinner was prepared and served by the Food Service Academy of the Community FoodBank of NJ in Hillside. After the Award ceremony, entertainment was provided by three talented student-poets, from three S/PA schools;  (Immaculate Conception in Montclair, St. Vincent Academy and Christ the King Prep in Newark).

Bringing the eight S/PA schools together allows students from each school to become acquainted with S/PA students from other schools while visiting with their mentors.  S/PA partners and mentors, from several surrounding communities also have the opportunity to meet each other.

Student/Partner Alliance has awarded 1,800 scholarships and mentoring to inner-city high school students since 1993. A unique benefit to the program is that each student is matched with a mentor who stays with that student throughout the 4 years of his/her high school experience.

The impact of mentoring on the future of the students is tremendous.  To find out more about Student/Partner Alliance, how to donate or how you might become involved, please email: or go to