Joseph James Morelli Foundation

2023 Annual Report

A Letter from our President

Dear friends,

I invite you to enjoy this communication and celebrate the accomplishments we have experienced this past year and throughout our nine years as a nationally recognized nonprofit. We have consistently accomplished our mission, which is to honor Joseph’s spirit by recognizing and supporting young adults with dyslexia, awarding scholarships while providing resources and support that empower them to be successful. We continue to grow, actively learn and enthusiastically seek opportunities to enhance the resources for our recipients. We collaborate with national universities as well as local organizations to help raise awareness, encourage partnerships, and create advocacy.

One theme that continues to emerge from our students is gratitude for the sense of community that we create. They contribute much of their continued success in knowing that someone believes in them. Devin, one of our second time awardees shared the following, “the scholarship money is extremely helpful but more than that, is the support and help you have offered me over the past year.” We are comforted in knowing that our support empowers our students to admirably navigate challenges and overcome obstacles—this is at the heart of who we are and what we do.

Because of your support we have the privilege of witnessing the courage and resilience in which our recipients pursue their education, despite their learning differences. They and you touch us deeply.

Thank you for sustaining this opportunity.

Barbara Wirostko Morelli, MD
Executive Director, President & Founder

Save the Date for our annual Park City Celebration Event!

The Shed at Promontory
Saturday, August 19, 2023
5:00—8:30PM
Guest speakers will include our scholarship recipients. 

Scholarship Overview

Thank you for your continued support and another heartwarming year in which we extended scholarships to 69 students and awarded $128,000. In just nine years it has been our privledge to impact the lives of 188 unique individuals throughout the country. We are grateful for your generosity and belief in the Morelli Foundation.

What You Helped Us Accomplish

Foundation Highlights

  • In July, 2022, we held a fund-raising event within the Long Island community where Joseph was born. We were able to highlight the impact their charity has had on our scholarship recipients throughout the country over the past nine years.
  • Our peer-to-peer mentoring program has been expanded and is now offered to all freshman scholarship recipients.
  • For the first time, scholarship applicants included siblings of previous recipients.
  • The Morelli Foundation partnered with the production company responsible for “Blame It On Gutenberg,” a documentary about the evolving science of dyslexia and the landmark struggle that the family of one of our scholarship recipients had with an unresponsive school system.
  • We continued to support the Dyslexia and Innovation (DXi) Symposium hosted by Montana State University, an event that focuses on the powerful advantages of the dyslexic mind including imagination, spatial awareness and creative thinking.
  • Our Foundation participated in the annual Utah School Counselors Association (USCA) to provide education to over 600 counselors about scholarship opportunities for dyslexic students pursuing an education in STEM.
  • In August, 2022, we hosted our annual “Celebration Event” event in Park City, Utah, where we enjoyed remarks from several of our scholarship recipients, always a highlight, and Jonathan Mooney, author of “Normal Sucks.”

Student Spotlight

Meet Keirston Dayley

Scholarship Awardee 2023 & 2022

“Receiving this scholarship means a huge boost in my confidence and it is an honor to be selected. When my mom started fighting our county to get me help, dyslexia was not even recognized. She worked with an elected representative and dyslexia was finally added as a disability. However, the school still did not want to provide me with accommodations or an IEP (Individual Education Plan). My mom had to sue the county and the day before we were supposed to go to court the county settled and agreed to provide me an IEP and accommodations. My mom never backed down and always fought for all my needs. By watching my mom over the years, I learned the importance of advocating. Each time I do my confidence increases. A scholarship from this foundation is a life line for me to attend college, financially, I will have the ability to focus on my academics, participate in the dyslexia program offered at the college and proudly, be a Resident Assistant which allows me to assist other college students in my dorm hall. I would not have this opportunity without the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation Scholarship. My anxiety, worry, and doubt will all decrease. Receiving this scholarship also gives me hope, I hope someday soon providing an IEP and accommodations for kids diagnosed with dyslexia will be commonplace. The Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation gives me confidence and belief in my ability to reach for and grab the highest star and become the best doctor I can be, despite my diagnosis of severe dyslexia…”

Keirston Dayley— Scholarship Awardee 2023 & 2022

A Parent's Perspective: Tabaitha Dayley

Parent of Scholarship Awardee, Keirston Dayley

Due to the scholarship, Keirston was able to enroll in the dyslexic program offered at West Virginia Wesleyan College which is helping her, especially with comprehension. Along with the accommodations she is offered due to her severe dyslexia, these two things have allowed her to focus not only on her studies but also being a college student. She is participating in the learning center and everything it has to offer a student with a disability. She has spoken with the mentor provided by the foundation who has really helped her adjust and overcome some challenges in chemistry. She was elected to represent her First Year Experience (FYEX) class to the student senate, and many other college opportunities she would not have time to do, or experience, if the accommodations and dyslexic help were not provided. I am so grateful for the assistance this scholarship is able to offer Keirston. While she still has her struggles, I know she is finding the confidence within herself to believe she can overcome every single one of them. Keirston is proving that with the right assistance, accommodations, support, and determination nothing, not even dyslexia, will stand in her way. Thank you again for all the support the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation is offering to Keirston, it is truly immeasurable!!!

Mentoring Program

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring for Freshman

One of the initiatives about which the Morelli Foundation is particularly proud is our mentoring program. Now in its third year, the program helps incoming college freshmen adjust to college life and thrive, particularly as a student with dyslexia. The transition to college can be challenging for any student, but for students who learn differently, it can be especially hard because their parents are no longer there to advocate for them and provide structure.

In our program, freshmen are mentored by upperclassmen, who are either current Morelli scholarship awardees or recent Morelli scholarship graduates. Trained by our partners in the program, “SuperPower Mentors,” our mentors help incoming freshmen secure the accommodations they are entitled to in addition to focusing on time management, effective study skills, social challenges and more. The 2023-2024 academic year is going to be particularly exciting because, thanks to the generosity of our donors we will, for the first time, be in a financial position to offer mentoring to all freshmen who want it.

As much as we like to show off our mentoring program, our students showcase it best—read what they have to say about this program below!

Graham, Program Mentee

“My mentor, Cole, helped me understand how college works. I don’t think I would have made it through my first semester without him…”

Joseph, Program Mentee

“I found it really helpful to be able to get advice from someone who is an experienced college student. This made the transition to college a lot smoother.”

Amy, Program Mentee

“Having a good mentor who puts time into me really makes a difference. It’s not just about calling and talking each week, but instead about having someone who can guide you through your struggles and who can help you overcome a tough situation. I truly believe that I have grown from this experience!”

Community

Breaking Dyslexia Barriers—Advocating for Student Rights

When a student is under 18 and attending grades K through 12 a parent or teacher may request an evaluation. If diagnosed with a learning difference, such as dyslexia, a student may receive special services including accommodations, to be provided by the school through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/or 504. Unfortunately, testing isn’t always provided and special services aren’t consistently extended, despite it being each student’s legal right.
(See “Blame It On Gutenberg” article).

In college a student may also receive special services, however, the burden is now entirely on the student to advocate and receive these accommodations. They must meet with a specialist, such as Neuropsychologist, pay for an evaluation and then secure a 504 Plan which outlines appropriate and reasonable accommodations to be provided. Prior to the beginning of each semester, students must locate their school’s disability services office to review their documentation and any accommodations within the 504 Plan such as changes to the testing environment, the method for receiving instruction or how curriculum is presented.

Lastly, the student may be required to meet with each professor to review their 504 Plan and the essential accommodations that are to be provided, only to be told that they won’t be. Just imagine!

Federal laws exist to protect students: specifically, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a 2008 amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and still, this many years later, students find themselves struggling, failing, or dropping out of school because accommodations are not being provided.

One institution was recently made aware of some challenges a few of our scholarship recipients have experienced, and their response was absolutely triumphant! Barbara Wirostko Morelli along with three other passionate champions, Beano Solomon, Connie Linardakis, and Donell Pons, sent a letter to the President at the University of Utah to share specific examples of accommodations not being readily available including one senior being told “her paperwork was too old” with only two semesters remaining.

In their reply to the Morelli Foundation, the University of Utah expressed immense gratitude for the feedback and shared that the following changes are being pursued – a forward visionary perspective that encapsulates what improvements are capable and will be impactful:

  • Relocate and enlarge the CDA (Center for Disability & Access) office to enable easier accessibility for all students.
  • Provide training to all department and faculty members interacting with students who have accommodations.
  • Hire additional staff to provide more support for the students and increase the “advisor to student” ratio.
  • Highlight on the website where students should communicate grievances or challenges they are confronted with.
  • Reconsider the need for retesting if a 504 Plan expires within the senior year and a student’s GPA is within a specified range.
  • Implement and offer mentoring to the students utilizing the CDA office.

The Mission of the foundation includes “Creating a sense of community in which our scholarship recipients and families can feel supported.” It is such an honor to be able to advocate for our students when situations arise that are less than positive, despite their valiant efforts to be successful.

Community

Lynne Shares Her Dyslexia Journey

“When I first applied for the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation scholarship, I thought I was just applying for some money that could help with school costs.  What I didn’t know is how much support I would be getting with receiving this scholarship.  I have been awarded this scholarship for three years now and the Morelli Foundation has helped me in so many ways.  One of the biggest things was helping me with the cost to get retested for dyslexia.”

Lynne was denied her accommodations during her senior year due to her paperwork being outdated.  Students have the option of using the scholarship funds to pay for tuition, purchasing technology to assist with accommodations or testing for their 504 Plan.  In this instance, the scholarship had been used for tuition and no funds were available to pay for retesting.  Lynn contacted Barbara who insisted on helping to find someone to retest, quickly, and assured her that the cost would be covered–both goals were accomplished and accommodations were provided.

The Morelli Foundation is grateful to the Sorensen Legacy Foundation for making it possible to provide financial assistance to Lynne, beyond her scholarship, and thank you to Dr. Jen Gale for providing her timely assistance with testing.  We are proud to announce that Lynne will be graduating, on time, with a degree in Paramedics/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from the University of Utah this fall.

LYNNE SHARES HER DYSLEXIA JOURNEY

Outreach

Blame it on Gutenberg

Years ago, Barbara Morelli, Robert DelGaudio, an independent film maker, and the parents of one of our scholarship recipients happened to be at an event together. The happenstance of their meeting resulted in the development of a 64-minute documentary that examines the evolving science of dyslexia, dueling theories over how to teach reading, and one family’s struggle with an unresponsive school system.

While Federal laws exist to protect children with disabilities, parents continue to struggle to obtain the services their children require and are entitled to. Students with a learning difference can excel in so many subjects yet when it comes to reading they are often labeled as lazy, needing to focus more or perhaps, not trying hard enough. We know this from so many of our scholarship recipients as well as their parents, including the ones in this documentary who share their thirteen-year journey to obtain the legal rights their daughter was entitled to.

We invite you to watch this incredibly compelling and educational film “Blame It On Gutenberg” which can be found on the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation website or on the Internet.

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Support

Ways to Support Our Nonprofit Organization

The Mission of the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation

The Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation honors Joseph’s spirit, by supporting high school and college students diagnosed with dyslexia who are planning to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) by: 1. Awarding scholarships to ease the financial burden of education and recognize achievement 2. Empowering our scholarship recipients to realize their potential through the Morelli Foundation mentoring program 3. Creating a sense of community in which our scholarship recipients and families can feel supported. Through our programs, we convey to our scholarship recipients that we view dyslexia as a learning difference that can drive them to be stronger, more determined, dedicated and able to shine brighter, as they learn to believe in themselves the way we believe in them. 

Thank you for your continued support and for making a significant impact in the lives of our scholarship recipients.

Company Match Donation

Many companies offer a “matching gift” program and will match contributions to employees’ favorite non-profit charitable organizations.

To see if your company participates visit
www.charitynavigator.org.

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Donate, Volunteer & Support During Annual Live PC Give PC

On November 3, 2023 we will once again join the Park City Community Foundation for Live PC Give PC, the annual day of giving.

Thank you to everyone who contributed this past November. With your remarkable generosity we raised $40,396!

Make a Tax Deductible Charitable Donation

Make a donation on our website, www.morelli.foundation or write a check payable to “Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation“ and mail it to:

Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation
7585 North Ranch Club Trail
Park City, UT 84098

All Donations are 100% Tax Deductible
EIN: 83-1939846

Financial Highlights

We continue to be profoundly grateful to each of our supporters.  You are making a significant difference in the lives of our scholarship recipients and honoring Joseph’s spirit.

Contributions received in 2022, $356,469.

83% of contributions received in 2022 supported current year program services and provided additional reserves to support awardees in future years.

Platinum Transparency 2023. Candid.

We are pleased to share that the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation has once again earned the highest level of recognition from GuideStar, the Platinum Seal of Transparency.  This acknowledgement indicates that the Foundation shares clear and important information with the public about their goals, strategies, capabilities, achievements and progress indicators that highlight the difference the Foundation makes in the world.

Thank You to Our Generous Donors

Thank you to our community of donors who have generously supported our mission these past nine years. Because of you, the Morelli Foundation has had the privilege of awarding over $550,000 and 336 scholarships to 188 awardees.

The list of charitable contributions that we have received this past year may be viewed by scanning this QR code.

Every November, Live PC Give PC brings Park City and Summit County together for 24 hours of extreme generosity. Supporters both local and nationwide come together for this annual fundraiser. All donations made between now and midnight Nov 3rd count towards our donation goal.

We Need Your Support on November 3, 2023

To date we have awarded over 330 scholarships, totaling more than $550,000. Your gift is helping these young adults receive much needed tutoring, testing, accommodations, resources and tuition support, which can make the difference between success and failure. But more than the financial support, your generous support builds students’ self-esteem and confidence, as well as restores the dream of being worthy and deserving of an education.

We would like to thank Promontory Foundation for their generous matching grant donation!  Please help us reach our goal of $40,000 so that we may continue to change lives!