During a trip in 1999, Alfredo and Maria Elena Cuomo were confronted with the extreme precariousness of most schools in the remote regions of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Faced with the numerous challenges faced by the younger generations in rural Tamil Nadu, Alfredo and Maria Elena Cuomo could not simply be bystanders. They decided to meet with the administrative officials of one of the schools they had come across in the village of Kovalam. In this coastal village inhabited by a fishing community, the schools were under the authority of the Diocese of Chingleput.
This experience prompted the philanthropic couple to initiate a foundation that would provide them with a formal framework to offer effective and sustainable support to these rural communities. Two years later, the Cuomo Foundation was established in the Principality of Monaco, and its first projects were initiated on Indian soil.
The first school to receive foundation’s support and guidance was John d’Monte Primary Schoool, located in the remote coastal village of Kovalam. Soon after, the Cuomo Foundation built its first school compound, St. Joseph’s Higher Sec. School, then a rudimentary structure barely suitable for any occupation, let alone a school for children.
The R.C. Higher Sec School was completed in 2005 establishing a highly successful purpose-built school with over 15 large classrooms, a library, computer studies facilities and fully equipped biology, chemistry and physics laboratories. Approximately 750 boys and girls attend the school (age range 11-18 yrs).
An additional school building with extra classrooms and facilities was completed in early 2008, able to accommodate a further 300 students. All subjects are taught in Tamil where as teaching of subjects in English is also available to qualified students.
In 2015 an additional covered outdoor pavilion was built to allow a study and resting area for the pupils.
On April 12, 2019, as a gesture of acknowlegement for the contribution of late Alfredo Cuomo, the Tamil Nadu School Director Procedures renamed the school Alfredo Cuomo Higher Secondary School.
Two separate purpose-built dormitories were completed in early 2006, built within the compounds of the Alfredo Cuomo Higher Sec. School, in the rural area of Sendivakkam.
The separate boarding houses provide students with dining halls, recreational rooms, study and sleeping rooms, toilets and showers.
This building was built within the compounds of the Alfredo Cuomo Higher Sec. School. Completed in 2006, the building is used for various school activities and functions throughout the year and is also used as a multi-purpose community centre for the local inhabitants of Sendivakkam.
A purpose-built two-storey school, including fully equipped playground area, was completed in early 2006 which provides free education for over 600 boys and girls (age range 5-10 yrs). An additional open air covered teaching area was built in 2009.
Since 2010, the Cuomo Foundation has been providing financial support for the operation of another primary school, St. Anthony's Primary School.
To help support regular attendance at the local schools, the Cuomo Foundation built a boarding home for boys on the grounds of St. Charles Higher Sec. School in KG Kandigai, a remote village located 100km west to Chennai.
Completed in 2005, the dormitories accommodate male students of from 11-18 years old.
The complex provides a dining hall, kitchen, study and recreational rooms, toilets and showers.
The home can accomodates up to 100 girls of and provides them with all the basic necessities.
Following the success of the boys boarding home, a similar building with full facilities was completed in 2010 for girls. This action has enabled female students to regularly attend St. Charles Higher Sec. School.
In 2015, a large-scale school construction project was initiated in the rural village of Mambakkam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. The new Amala Annai High school replaces the distressed rundown original school buildings on a new site with a capacity for 800 pupils from 11 to 18 years old.
Built adhering to strict green ecological guidelines and regulations, the school was awarded in March 2018 the IGBC Platinum Rating by the Indian Green Build Council. The IGBC is India’s leading body for green certification. The school obtained this recognition in particular for its use of sustainable materials, methods and practice during construction and for the originality of its curriculum focused on green education and recycling.
In 2018, the construction works were completed. The inauguration took place June 20, 2019.
The Scholarship Program was founded by Alfredo Cuomo in 2004 in Kovalam to assist young gifted students, attending the Cuomo Foundation school, to continue their studies at colleges and universities. Alfredo Cuomo, had been a recipient of the international Fulbright Scholarship, which had enabled him as a young student to develop his own academic potential.
The scholarship provides each student with financial funding to help support their chosen field of study. In addition, workshops, seminars and field trips are organised for their benefit.
Awarded annually at the start of the academic year to a number of boys and girls in their final senior year. Selection is decided by the Foundation, working in collaboration with the school masters and the parish priests and is based on the academic potential, merit and economic situation of the individual student.
The scholarship was extended to be available to the senior students in Sendivakkam and K.G. Kandigai in 2007.
Over 500 students have benefited from these life-changing awards and a large percentage are now gainfully employed in various professional areas such as engineering, catering, nursing, teaching, dentistry, medicine and management.
Since 2004, over 800,000 € has been allocated to this initiative.
This program was established in 2014 to assist academically bright young girls to continue in higher studies.
The aim of this new scholarship program is to identify and support gifted female students from the three secondary schools in Kovalam, Sendivakkam and K.G.Kandigai funded by the Cuomo Foundation. A total of three scholarships will be awarded annually to girls achieving the highest scores of the public government exams taken in late March, at the end of the 10th standard. The scholarship will be granted on a yearly basis for a maximum of two years support in secondary school and a further three to five years support in University and is subject to the pupil maintaining a high academic level each year. The amount of scholarship will cover the total annual school fees and then University tuition fees.
For the academic year 2014-2015, the first recipient of this new scholarship was Ms Shabana Asmin who attended St Joseph’s Higher Sec. School, Kovalam. In 2013, Shabana Asmin scored the highest regional marks for the 10th standard public government school examination: an outstanding average of 96.6 %. Shabana has been accepted to study on the Aeronautical Engineering course at the prestigious Sathyabama University, Chennai and commenced her 4 year-course in 2015.
For the academic year 2015-16, three girls were awarded the scholarship on the results of the 10th standard exam.
Ms Deepa Lakshmirpathy
Alfredo Cuomo Higher Secondary School, Sendivakkam
Ms Amala Gangatharan-Ponnamma
St Charles Higher Secondary School, K.G.Kandigai
Ms Desia-Geetha Desappan
St Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, Kovalam