DeBartolo Foundation Gives $140K to 20 Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A little over a week ago, when Gabrielle Yanniello found out she was receiving a $7,000 scholarship to attend Slippery Rock University, she was overcome with emotion.

“I started crying,” said the senior from Girard High School. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to college because my parents had a bad financial situation and I thought I was going to be in debt forever so this really helps.”

Yanniello plans to major in public relations with the goal to work as a social media manager for sports teams when she graduates.

She was the recipient of the Donald P. Pipino Scholarship, a component of the Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

The foundation presented 20 scholarships totaling $140,000 – the largest amount in the foundation’s history – to graduating high school students from the Mahoning Valley at a lunch in the Holiday Inn Boardman on Friday, while student’s parents and mentors looked on with admiration.

While Yanniello’s parents weren’t able to attend the ceremony, her drama teacher Ashley Gabriel did. “Mrs. Gabriel has always been there when my parents couldn’t be. She would give me rides home from school and gave me advice about everything,” Yanniello says.

Throughout school, Yanniello worked as the public relations appointee for the drama club where she handled the group’s social media account, promoting plays and events the club would hold.

“She has taken on a leadership role and has been my second in command,” Gabriel said. “She is such a hard worker and puts her whole heart into everything she does, the scholarship couldn’t go to someone more deserving.”

The scholarship foundation was established by Edward DeBartolo Sr. and several close friends who endeavored to provide deserving students the opportunity to continue their education.

“My father believed that all students who have demonstrated the desire to continue their education, regardless of their financial situation, should be afforded the opportunity to receive a college education,” said Denise DeBartolo York.

The scholarship foundation, run by Denise and her husband, John, in DeBartolo’s honor, serves to provide the same platform for exemplary area youth in need of financial assistance.

“Sometimes all it takes is for someone to believe you and there are people here today who believe in you,” DeBartolo York said. “It’s your character and your commitment to giving back that won you this award.”

More than 400 applications were submitted, which included grade transcripts, student essays and recommendations from guidance counselors and principals.

Scholarship recipients are determined by “academic performance, community involvement and financial needs,” said ceremony emcee, United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley president Bob Hannon.

The foundation has awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships over the past 21 years. An annual dinner and auction is held to raise funds for the scholarships. This year’s event will take place May 25 at the Covelli Centre.

Also among this year’s scholarship recipients is Re’Alyti Porterfield of Warren G. Harding High School, who will be attending the University of Kentucky to major in medicine. She wants to be a pediatrician and forensic psychologist.

“Winning this scholarship has motivated me to go harder,” she said. “I like kids and helping people feel better, so I decided I want to be a pediatrician. … And I like to study minds, so I want to minor in psychology and become a forensic psychologist too.”

Warren G. Harding’s assistant principal, Janis Ulicny, attended the ceremony in support of Porterfield.

“Re’Alyti has always been a super hardworking girl. She’s gone above and beyond and she certainly deserves this award,” she said

Eighteen more students received $7,000 scholarships. They are:

  • Dillion Bennet, Liberty
  • Becky Bernet, United Local
  • Breanna Crone, Austintown Fitch
  • Austin Dalrymple, Wellsville
  • Mackenzie Goodin, Poland Seminary
  • Celeste Harris, Warren G. Harding
  • Tyler Hephner, Leetonia
  • Sarah Jarvis, West Branch
  • Erica Jensen, United Local
  • Courtney Koken, Cardinal Mooney
  • Nicholas Lascola, Boardman
  • Amanda Leone, Ursuline
  • Alexis Moore, Western Reserve
  • Brooke Pater, Western Reserve
  • Lauren Schotten, Hubbard
  • Jacquelyn Warner, Bloomfield
  • Rebecca Wetherill, Lowellville
  • Nakea Wilson, Warren G. Harding

Pictured: Scholarship winners Re’Alyti Porterfield and Gabrielle Yanniello.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.