Discovering Promise… Rewarding Excellence
The Carson Scholars Fund is a non-profit charity that was founded in 1994 by Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson and his wife, Candy, to recognize and reward students in grades 4-11 who strive for academic excellence (3.75 GPA or higher) and demonstrate a strong commitment to their community.

Dr. Alfonso Costa serves as President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Carson Scholars Fund. Since its 2004 inception, the Pittsburgh Carson Scholars Fund has awarded over 1,000 students in Pittsburgh-area public and parochial schools. Over $1 million has been awarded to local children in the Pittsburgh area for higher educational scholarships.

What is a Carson Scholar?

CARSON SCHOLARS, in addition to receiving a monetary award, are honored at an elegant banquet surrounded by friends and family. They receive an Olympic–sized medal and an imposing certificate.  Their schools are presented with a large inscribed trophy to put on display for the entire school to admire.

Students are eligible to be selected as Carson Scholars as early as the fourth grade. This means that they return to their schools from the awards banquet as academic heroes, as role models for their schoolmates. This recognition encourages the entire school to strive for academic success.  

Carson Scholars are not only intelligent, but have demonstrated a genuine concern for people and their communities through civic and humanitarian activities.

Carson Scholars are not selected on the basis of need, although many scholars come from needy circumstances. When Carson Scholars are chosen they know that it is on the basis of their own personal achievement.

Carson Scholars remain connected to the Fund through annual statements mailed to them, showing the current value of their scholarship.  When they enter college the accrued money is forwarded to the college and credited to their account.  This “Alumni Association” of scholars is becoming a strong network for the entire program, and will be one of the principle engines for expansion as the Scholars Program grows across the country.

Rosalia Costa-Clarke Memorial Fund

Throughout her life within her home, workplace, and community, Rosalia “Lilly” Costa-Clarke displayed compassion for others and a selfless commitment to humanitarian involvement. Lilly’s life was tragically cut short on September 29, 2004, when she died suddenly while working as counsel for labor and employment at Wachovia Bank. Lilly’s passion for helping others in all aspects of her life is a shining example for all of us to follow.

To honor her memory and her many good works, Lilly’s brother, Dr. Alfonso Costa, and her husband created an endowment fund in her honor. Each year, the Rosalia Costa-Clarke Award honors a student who exhibits kindness, a zest for life, and a love of animals that our dear friend, sister, and wife displayed every day of her life.

The 2024 Rosalia Costa-Clarke Memorial Award recipient was Madelyn Cobleigh. Madelyn is a 10th grade student at Oakland Catholic High School.

Past Rosalia Costa-Clarke Memorial Award recipients:

Lily Douglass (2023)
Jelena Russell (2022)
Maitlyn Assegai (2021)
Laura McGoey (2020)
Charity Lucas (2019)
Katharine McGoey (2018)
Hailey Winters (2017)
Ameera Davis (2016)
Katrina Luffey (2015)
Rose Cascio (2014)
Jessica Sedano (2013)
Mackenzie Trosky (2012)
Giovanna Marie Varlotta (2011)
Julia Kocherzat (2010)
Christine Fiumara (2009)
Erin Deasy (2008)
Mary Kate Freeman (2007)
Albree Weisen (2006)
Dominaye Randolph (2005)





Events - Sponsored by S & T Bank

Spring Awards Banquet
The Pittsburgh Carson Scholars Fund hosted its Eleventh Annual Awards Banquet on May 24, 2015 at the Heinz Field East Club Lounge in downtown Pittsburgh. One hundred and eight students from Pittsburgh-area public and parochial schools were selected as new scholars in 2015, and 165 Pittsburgh students renewed their Carson Scholar status. Scholars in attendance celebrated with families, friends, teachers, and Pittsburgh Carson Scholars Fund sponsors. Each new scholar received a $1,000 scholarship, a medal, a certificate, and a trophy to be displayed at school. These students were honored for their academic achievements and the humanitarian efforts they display in their communities. Co-founders Dr. Benjamin and Mrs. Candy Carson attended the event, and Dr. Carson delivered the keynote speech. In addition, Pittsburgh Chapter President Dr. Alfonso Costa presented the 2015 Spirit of Achievement Award to the Honorable Thomas M. Piccione.
Auction & Cocktail Event
Sponsors and guests of the 11th Annual Charity Auction & Cocktail Event enjoyed an evening with hosts Dr. Alfonso Costa and Jerome Bettis, along with special guest, Dr. Benjamin Carson. The event was held on December 8, 2014 at the Andy Warhol Museum in downtown Pittsburgh. The evening featured a live auction with exciting packages such as dinner with Jerome Bettis at Grille 36, golf with Jerome Bettis at Oakmont Country Club, and rare jewelry pieces. Special guests included Joey Porter, Sally Wiggin and Bob Pompeani. This event is the Pittsburgh Carson Scholar's Fund sole annual fundraiser.

Special thanks to Bonnie Burman photography for capturing these incredible moments at our events!

For more information, please contact Advisory Board Member Sarah Piccione at (412) 394-9803 or visit