About the Andrew Rinaldi Memorial Fund

Andrews Studio 2018

Since its inception in 2016, the  Andrew Rinaldi Memorial Fund has developed from a fund with a broad mandate to promote the well-being of young Americans to an organization which focuses as far as possible on developing and funding activities for young adults; the 16 to 24 year-old population in particular, as that seems to be an under-served group.

All this came about initially because we and our friends and family wanted to create a memorial to Andrew, who died at 24 in 2016. It has reached further than we imagined might be possible and we are now looking for ways to assess the impact that the fund has had thus far. The aim of  the fund continues to be to help teens and young adults who find themselves at a loss, for whatever reason; it might be because organized activities are aimed at younger people and so they are bored, or because they find themselves in trouble of some kind. Whatever the reason, we want to help, and we are doing what we can.

But our real niche has become funding recording studios! When Andrew died in 2016, we were looking to fund projects in the neighborhood which might benefit teens and young adults. Greenwich, CT, is lucky enough to have the country’s longest-running privately-funded teen center, known as the Teen Center at Arch Street. We reached out to them to see whether they had any specific need for help. As chance would have it, it turned out that they had been thinking about clearing out their storage rooms and turning them into a recording studio of some kind. And it just made so much sense to us; here was a project that would appeal to almost everyone, and that Andrew would have loved. He was into music, electronics, IT – it was such a perfect fit, and he would have wanted to use it himself!

Thus, the first Andrew’s Studio was created and opened officially in April, 2017. It now serves about 35 people a week and is always free for all to use. More than 500 have tried it since its opening; and projects range from one-off recording sessions to first-time users getting a taste for music or podcast creation to students who come on a weekly basis.

With the early success of the first studio, we looked around for a second project. Close to Greenwich is Stamford, CT, and DomusKids runs programs there for kids and young adults. These are designed to further their education, job prospects and just to have fun! They heard about Andrew’s Studio at Arch Street and contacted us to apply for their own grant to convert a backstage room into a studio and in January 2019 the second Andrew’s Studio opened. During the school year, this is now already used by 35 students a week and is accessible to the young people in Domus’s young adults program. Like Arch Street, all programs are free.

We then turned our attention to Port Chester, NY. The Carver Center there runs a community center with programs for all ages, after school programs for kids and career/education-development programs for young adults. They already had a recording studio – but it was very outdated. We funded refurbishing and equipping the studio, and they opened the third Andrew’s Studio in late 2019! They have focused on group workshops in the studio from Monday to Wednesday each week, and Thursday and Friday are for individual use – all free of charge.

Then along came the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford; they’ve recently built a new teen center and incorporated a music studio into the design – trusting that someone would equip it when it was built. After making sure that it would be available for young adults as well as high schoolers, we gave them a grant and they are in the process of equipping it now. The fourth Andrew’s Studio should open its doors in September 2020 (even with Covid 19 restrictions!).

In addition to the music studios, we have given some general grants to organizations who serve this young adult population and who can usually get funds for food and shelter but who don’t have the funding for activities such as gym memberships, outings to baseball games, shows, museums and movie theaters.

Our next project involves Andrew’s Studio at Domus, Andrew’s Studio at Arch Street and Christ Church, Greenwich. Called The Racial Harmony Project, the goals are to create an environment where youth and young adults from different communities can gain a better understanding of our similarities and differences and express their emotions around racial issues through the creation of songs, poems or podcasts. Over seven weeks, participants from each of the organizations will work alone or in pairs and at the end we hope to publish their creations. At the same time, we will be funding a documentary of the whole project, and we hope to learn from that just what impact the studios are having on the lives of these young Americans.

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About Andrew

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Andrew was a wonderful person; strong-willed, energetic, caring and could always put a smile on your face. He always saw the good in people and always made sure that everyone felt included. When he died, he was supremely content; he had started his dream job a few months before and was doing well; he liked the people he worked with; he had a steady girlfriend whom he loved and lived with; he was close with all of us, his family, and he’d repaired a couple of broken friendships that had been troubling him for a while.

Then, he made a mistake. He was never afraid to take risks and, as all young adults, he believed he was invincible. Andrew drove his car too fast, jumped off high cliffs into the sea for fun – and took a risk that he should never have; he got hold of a research chemical (also known as a “legal high”) and he tried it for the first time. He didn’t truly understand the consequences as, at the time, it was a legal substance and the consequences were not highly publicized. He thought it was safe. It was an accident. He didn’t use drugs and wasn’t a drug addict. He just tried something out, and it killed him.

When it happened, people wanted to send money to a charity of our choice, to commemorate Andrew’s life. There wasn’t an obvious charity for us to recommend; he hadn’t died from a disease, or from drinking or being hurt by anyone else. So, we set up the Andrew Rinaldi Memorial Fund, a public charity, whose purpose is to promote the well-being of young Americans. We didn’t know exactly what we would use it for, but we decided that we would focus on late teens and young adults who find themselves at a loss, for whatever reason; it might be because organized activities are aimed at younger people and so they are bored, or because they find themselves in trouble of some kind. Whatever the reason, we want to help, and we are doing what we can.