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Families of Freedom - Joe Palombo

A charity that's awarded $130M in scholarships to 9/11 victims' relatives isn't done yet

A charity that's awarded $130M in scholarships to 9/11 victims' relatives isn't done yet

WATCH | The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which has awarded $130 million to the children and spouses of 9/11 victims since 2001, still has work to do to assist an additional 3,100 potential beneficiaries.

I lost my father when I was 12 years old. Going into college I was scared; I didn't know if I could graduate [from] college.
Joe Palombo, scholarship recipient

Established within a week of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Families of Freedom provides postsecondary education assistance to dependents of people who were killed or disabled in the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. One such recipient was Joe Palombo, whose father, Frank, died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

Families of Freedom - Joe Palombo
Families of Freedom scholarship recipient Joe Palombo visits the section of the World Trade Center Memorial dedicated to his father, Frank Palombo. (Image credit: Families of Freedom.)

Joe's siblings are next in line

"I still have a brother and a sister, and they're in high school," Joe added. "And they're going to hopefully get these scholarships from Families of Freedom."

We need help. ... We need to ensure that the last 3,500 [scholarship recipients] have the same financial support that the first 3,000 had.
Rhianna Quinn Roddy, Families of Freedom director

But to reach its ultimate goal of providing educational financial aid to the families of victims through the year 2030, the charity still has work to do, according to the charity's executive director, Rhianna Quinn Roddy.

A gift of 'love' that 'makes the world a better place'

Palombo said that the gift he'd received, and that his siblings are next in line to share, transcends its monetary value.

"When I found out I was going to receive a scholarship, I felt love," he said. "The thought that people out there love you, and people out there care about you, it makes the world a better place."

Last year alone, the charity reported awarding a combined $13 million to 839 students.

And the Never Forget Tribute Classic basketball tournament helped the cause last month.

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