The Elsie Foundation was created in memory of my mother, Elsie Alberghini Kandrak. Our mission is to provide new technology equipment, such as laptop computers and software, and financial literacy education to economically disadvantaged students and their communities to give them a better chance for a successful future.
Elsie was a woman who devoted herself to teaching for more than thirty years. She believed that a student's trajectory in life could be transformed through education and opportunity. Throughout her career, she transformed many students' lives, including those of her four children.
From 1955 through 1959, she attended Danbury Teacher’s College in Connecticut on a Fellowship Grant from the Ford Foundation. She was one of eight women who participated in a joint program of study with Yale University titled, “The Yale-Fairfield Study of Elementary Teaching.” After graduating, she taught at various schools in Connecticut before moving to New Jersey with her husband, George, where she opened the Catalina Hills Nursery School in their Magnolia home. She operated the Pre‑kindergarten School for more than 25 years before finishing her career as a third-grade teacher at St. Agnes Catholic School in Blackwood. Many South Jersey locals fondly recall being taught by Mrs. Kandrak. Read more in "The Elsie Foundation's Story", downloadable below.
Elsie’s daughter, Deb, and her husband, Jamie, sponsored a small scholarship at their alma mater, Widener University, in Chester, PA. One day, in the fall of 2015, while touching base with Dustin, a beneficiary of their scholarship, they uncovered a surprising need: many students, like Dustin, attend college without the advantage of having their own computer. University computer labs are available, but often offer out-of-date or broken equipment and minimal staffing because most students have their own computers.
Upon learning about Dustin’s plight, Deb and Jamie decided buy him a new laptop. The small purchase made a huge impact on Dustin’s educational journey. Deb and Jamie, who until then, like many of us, took for granted the luxury of having a personal laptop, quickly concluded that helping students like Dustin was exactly the kind of thing Elsie would do—and The Elsie Project was born.
Deb and Dustin in 2015 at Widener University