Lupoli family pledges $500,000 to Northern Essex

COURTESY PHOTO: The Lupoli Companies is building "The Heights," a 10-story mixed-use building on Merrimack Street, on the site of a former municipal parking lot. This rendering shows what the project will look like at its completion.

HAVERHILL — The Lupoli Family Foundation has made a $500,000 pledge to fund a new hospitality and culinary school that Northern Essex Community College plans to open in downtown Haverhill in 2019.

The Lupoli Family’s pledge will jump start an anticipated $1 million endowment for the Lupoli Family School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts which will be named in honor of Sal’s parents, Nicholas and Jeannette Lupoli and his brother James, according to college officials.

The $1 million endowment would include the Lupoli pledge as well as funding from other sources, which the college is currently raising. It would be used to fund a chair or lead faculty for the college’s hospitality and culinary school, college officials said.

"My family is honored to partner with Northern Essex Community College in their efforts to ensure that all students have equal access to a quality education,” said Lupoli. "As I close my eyes each night, I reflect upon my purpose to make my mother, father and brother proud of what Lupoli Companies was able to accomplish by focusing on family, education and culture."

Like other community colleges and state universities, NECC has struggled with decreased state funding. Massachusetts has cut higher education by 31 percent since 2001.

"It’s an incredible gift that will help us do something that no community college in New England has done before," said NECC President Lane Glenn. "We will be able to create a permanent endowed chair for an academic program that will become a regional provider of skilled workers for an industry that is booming in the Commonwealth."

The Lupoli Family School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts will occupy two floors of The Heights, a 10-story luxury, mixed-use development project built by Lupoli Companies, scheduled to open in 2019. It will feature classrooms, laboratories, a test kitchen, and a restaurant where aspiring chefs can begin honing their skills. Up to 200 students, from across the region, will enroll in programs ranging from certificates and associate degrees, to eventually bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Northern Essex agreed to occupy the space in The Heights when the project was still in its planning stages.

NECC currently offers an associate of science degree in business management with a hospitality option and is also planning to offer a culinary arts certificate program once the new school opens downtown. Both programs will be located in The Heights building.

Glenn noted the long and successful partnership he and NECC have had with Lupoli Companies.

"We have operated a satellite campus at Riverwalk’s thriving mixed-use development in Lawrence for 10 years," Glenn said. "Sal and I helped launch the Lawrence Partnership, a private-public economic development group of leaders in the city; and Lupoli Companies built, donated, and helps us manage the Revolving Test Kitchen, a golden ticket opportunity for restaurant entrepreneurs."

Having started his career in hospitality, Sal Lupoli said he recognizes the importance of this unique program and the benefits it brings to the area.

"We encourage other businesses to join us in our commitment to support higher education because when you invest in a community college, you invest in the future of our local neighborhoods and our state as a whole," he said.

Business leaders expressing their support for the donation include Paul S. Grogan, president and CEO of The Boston Foundation, and Dan O'Connell, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.

"Massachusetts community colleges are critical to our region’s competitiveness," Grogan said in a statement. "With his pledge, Sal Lupoli sets an important example for business leaders who recognize the important role community colleges play in the community – educating students, fueling the local and regional economy, and providing life-changing opportunities for graduates."

"At the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, we want to make the Commonwealth one of the leading states for business investment and job creation," O'Connell said in a statement. "Collaborations with civic leaders, like Sal Lupoli, and community colleges, like NECC, generate growth which will ultimately contribute to our success as a region."