The Invest in Elmont program encourages students to think of creative ways to invest in their local community. But the program's co-founder, Muzzio Tallini, said he sees the students as investments themselves.
Invest in Elmont is a yearlong school program that mentors high school juniors and seniors, as well as college students residing in Elmont, to write a business proposal on how they would vitalize and invest in their local community. The student with the best business proposal wins a $5,000 scholarship at the end of the year.
By getting younger students excited about coming up with ideas that may help their community, Tallini is hoping more young Long Islanders will consider staying on the island or coming back after college to work and invest locally.
"This scholarship is to try to take advantage of our location and our students," Tallini said. "And to stop that migration of students that leave Long Island and never come back."
Tallini himself grew up in Floral Park and left Long Island for a period before coming back, and now works as a property developer. He started Invest in Elmont with Carl Achille, who owns a barber shop in Elmont a few doors down from where Tallini's offices are based.
Last year's winning proposal for Invest in Elmont was written by Titus Williams, a student at SUNY Old Westbury. Williams' idea was to turn the Belmont Park area into an entertainment and sports complex and revitalize the Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont to attract visitors from New York City.
The program's flagship contest was held among students at Sewanhaka High School and Elmont Memorial High School. But this year, Invest in Elmont is expanding -- at the beginning of this school year in September, the program will be open to the entire Sewanhaka Central High School District. It will also continue to be open to college students who reside in the area.
Students interested in the program can fill out an application at www.elmontchamber.com/invest_in_elmont to take part.
Photo: Invest in Elmont founders Muzzio Tallini, left, and Carl Achille flank their program's first winner Titus Williams.