Cultural Italian American Organization 144 Genesee Street, Suite 102-240 Auburn, New York 13021
Cultural Italian American Organization144 Genesee Street, Suite 102-240Auburn, New York 13021



CIAO is proud to award two $500 scholarships to students from Auburn High School and/or Tyburn Academy. Information is available in the spring from the school guidance office or can be downloaded below. DEADLINE FOR FILING SCHOLARSHIP IS MAY 15, 2020. Please notice address for mailing completed application.


CIAO Scholarship 2020
CIAO scholarship application 2020.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [111.7 KB]


2019 CIAO Scholarship winners


Congratulations to this year's scholarship winners, Auburn High School students Ashley Reilly and Zachery Moore. They were each presented with a $500 check from CIAO. To read their winning essays, visit the Scholarship Info page. 



2019 winners are Ashley Reilly and Zachery Moore. Congratulations! Their winning essays are below:


Essay by Ashley Reilly


Italian culture has greatly enriched my life. I would like to begin with an Italian immigrant, Dina, who has greatly inspired me with her work ethic. Dina is a family friend of mine who owns her own tailoring business in downtown Auburn. Almost every year before my dance recitals she would tailor at least one of my costumes and we have never left dissatisfied. Every time I walk into her business I am so inspired by her; she came to America to make a better life for herself and her children and she was able to do that with her incredible dedication. Her business is always filled with outfits in need of tailoring. It is clear that while she has a strong Italian accent, she has a work ethic even stronger. Another Italian woman who has inspired me is my current dance teacher Yvonne Valino-Hassett. She currently does a great job at showing me that you can work hard and have a great time doing it. She often talks about how she owes much of the way she is to her Italian culture. I know few women who have started their own businesses and I don’t believe it is a coincidence two of them are Italian; therefore, it is evident that Italian culture asserts a work ethic and determination in women that I find to be inspiring and contagious. I also love Italian food. Pasta, bread, pizza, you name it, I’ll eat it. However, when I was five I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease which means I cannot digest gluten, but that did not mean the end of my admiration for Italian food. A brand named Schär sells a multitude of gluten free Italian foods including pizza. Not to mention, Olive Garden has been a prime staple restaurant for my family whenever we are out of town because of the delicious Italian food and gluten sensitive menu. Finally, Roman Catholicism has been a huge part of my life. I have altar served since fourth grade and lectored since tenth. In tenth grade I was also asked to lead the singing for Father Eric’s Holy Hour at St. Francis on Thursdays which I did until Father Eric left for Geneva. Catholicism has been a rock for me throughout my maturation; it has reminded me what is important and valuable in life. The scriptures have taught me these things, but so has the community of people. The community I have become a part of is filled with kindness, love, and people who wouldn’t hesitate to help someone in need. This is the type of life I aspire to live. Overall, Italian culture has inspired me, made my meals much tastier, and given me an admirable set of values.


Essay by Zachery Moore


Italian culture has an incredible influence on my life, both with my family and in school. My father’s side of my family emigrated from Cinisi, Sicily and settled in Auburn. My great grandfather, Vincenzo Badalamenti, helped to found the Cinisi Social Club in 1961, of which my father is a member. I take Italian in high school to learn more about the culture of the land in which my ancestors grew up before they emigrated to America. The vast amount of knowledge that I have gained from that class and my Italian heritage has had an incredible influence on my life.


My extended family meets twice each year in celebration of Christmas and during the summer as well. We get together at these gatherings to promote family unity and to preserve family customs and culture. These Cinisi Club parties allow me to see the wide range of my relatives from Auburn and the surrounding Central New York area. I always learn something new, whether I meet a relative for the first time, or whether I hear the story of my ancestors emigrating from Italy and eventually ending up on Underwood Street in Auburn. The Cinisi parties also give me a chance to speak Italian with my relatives, as my parents do not understand the language. The cuccidati at the Christmas party are amazing as well, and a true Italian always has as many as they can. Family is what really matters in life, and the cinisi Club allows me to see the roots of my family and both the struggles and triumphs of seeking a better life in the land of opportunity.


I also get to experience Italian culture through my studies in high school. I have taken Italian every year since seventh grade, and I am so glad that I have learned the language and customs of my ancestors. Italian class with my teacher, Mrs. Bell, has taught me about the holidays in Italy that are celebrated in different ways here in the United States. Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Easter take on an entirely new meaning under the names of Natale, Carnevale, and Pasqua. The traditions of these holidays were unknown to me before I had taken this class, but the story of the Christmas witch La Befana and the masks of Carnevale gave me a new appreciation of other cultures. It is too easy to simply believe that American traditions are the definitive celebrations of a holiday around the world, but I am willing to say that Italian traditions outshine their American counterparts by bounds.


It would be an understatement to say that Italian culture has been present in my life from the beginning. I know that my family will continue its Italian traditions, and I hope to be able to study abroad in Italy to continue my education while experiencing the beautiful nation of my ancestors.



Congratulations to past winners:


2018: Victoria DeJoy and Emma Clark

2017: Lydia Marteney and Christopher Moriarty. 

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