GNSAF Gearing Up For Fundraising Walk

From left to right: Michael Weinstock, Jill Monoson and Elise Kestenbaum (Photo Courtesy of Jill Monoson)

The Great Neck Student Aid Fund (GNSAF) will host its second-annual “Fun Walk For Education” on Sunday, Sept. 22 to raise money for high school students who otherwise could not afford to attend college or obtain the supplies they need for higher education.
The walk, which came into existence last year, is one more way the nonprofit tries to encourage donors to, as they put it, “come change a life” and help students avoid the heartbreak of being unable to afford college.

“We feel like each year will build on the year before, and we’ll expand,” GNSAF President Elise Kestenbaum said. “It’s going to be, hopefully, a beautiful weekend, and it’s early enough that people can do whatever they have planned for the day and still help the community.”

Registration for the event starts at 9 a.m., rain or shine, at the Great Neck Plaza Village Hall on 2 Gussack Plaza, and the walk begins at 10 a.m. The fee to attend is $20 for adults and $10 for students under 18 years of age, with no charge for children in strollers.

Sponsors for the event can pay $250 to receive a sign on the walk route. Participants can also register in advance online by following the information at

The one-mile walk starts at the Village Hall on Gussack Plaza, and winds around through Cutter Mill Avenue, North Station Plaza, St Paul’s Place and Grace Avenue before finishing once more at the village hall. Due to the relaxed pace of the event, Kestenbaum joked that it might be more appropriate to call the walk a “saunter.”

Several prominent local figures are set to participate in the walk, including Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso, State Senator Anna Kaplan and Legislator Ellen Birnbaum. Also returning to help the cause is Michael Weinstock, a former prosecutor who received a grant from the GNSAF and is now running for election as a congressman for New York’s Third Congressional District.

Last year’s walk wound up generating around $5,000 in funds, a number the GNSAF thinks will increase this year due to the familiarity of having the event for a second time and increased publicity efforts.

Founded in 1931, the nonprofit GNSAF focuses on providing need-based grants to help fund a student’s first year of college. Each year, according to the organization’s website, it selects between 60 and 70 students to give aid to after filtering applicants through a confidential screening process.

The rationale behind funding freshman year, Kestenbaum said, is to focus on helping students get over the hurdle of entering a university in the first place. There was a point when the GNSAF could fully fund a student’s higher education, but those times have passed due to rising costs of tuition over the last few decades.

“What we do is we provide a scholarship to students for their first year of college,” she said. “Because we feel that once they get their foot in the door and we can help them, they’ll figure out how to keep going.”

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