On October 17, 2018, philanthropists Lois and Richard Nicotra gathered at the COMMONS café, their Bloomfield social enterprise eatery where 100% of the profits are awarded in grants and scholarships, with 61 grant recipients as The Lois & Richard Nicotra Foundation shared $84,539 in funding. For the first time, the Nicotra Foundation presented the COMMONS café employees with $100 American Express Gift Cards so the employees can become philanthropists and “Pay It Forward” to the community organization of their choice.
Lois Nicotra shared, “Our COMMONS café team works daily to promote our mission to “Eat Good, Do Good” and we hope to empower our café employees with this gift card to ‘share the LOVE’ with a nonprofit group, someone in need, or use it to purchase an item that would benefit a person or group in our community.”
Grant recipients like, Maria Littreal, Science Teacher & Sustainability Coordinator at P.S. 21, expressed gratitude at the ceremony, noting that the “support of The Lois & Richard Nicotra Foundation, allows P.S. 21 to bring learning to life by enhancing our current school garden by adding edible plants and landscaping.”
Fellow recipients expressed similar reactions to support from The Nicotra Foundation. “It was such a great experience being a part of the heartfelt grace they bring to our borough. They have given us more than just a donation. They have inspired me to do more for my family, my community and people in need,” shared Emmanuel R. Wheagar, Executive Director of Second Chance Youth Empowerment Project.
Richard Nicotra shared, “This past year, we received donations and gifts in kind from a number of people and companies, and each gift gives us hope that philanthropy and
kindness are infectious.” Richard Nicotra also referenced Warren Buffett’s historic gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Buffett’s confidence in the Gates Foundation’s ability to effectively distribute the funds and expressed that he felt donors had shown the same confidence in The Nicotra Foundation, which was gratifying.
“Maybe we’ll be a conduit for more people who want to ‘Pay It Forward’,” Nicotra shared, “Because our Foundation does know how to do this and I think that we do it well. It says to me that what we are doing is working – so, don’t forget to be nice. Don’t forget to come to the café because the more burgers we sell, the more we can give away.”
The Nicotras shared their pride in gifting nearly $785,000 from the café and discussed plans for their next social enterprise eatery, Pienza Pizza, Pasta & Porchetta, and their intention to double their giving once that eatery opens in their newest building, Corporate Commons Three.
Lois Nicotra congratulated the nonprofit groups on “working to do good in our community. Together, we are creating a ripple of kindness and goodness on Staten Island.”
Since 2011, The Lois & Richard Nicotra Foundation has awarded $784,039 to more than 379 Staten Island based non-profit organizations and scholarship recipients. The Nicotras announced plans for a second social enterprise eatery, also located at the Teleport, which will be three times the size of the COMMONS cafè and join the cafè’s mission to “Eat Good. Do Good.” giving 100% of the profits to charity.