Cathyann Roding Performing Arts Scholarship Fund

The Branford Community Foundation is thrilled to announce one of our newest funds—the Cathyann Roding Performing Arts Scholarship Fund. The Branford Community Foundation is thrilled to announce one of our newest funds—the Cathyann Roding Performing Arts Scholarship Fund.

The fund was established with a sold-out celebration at Branford High School (BHS), where alumni filled the stage to sing in honor of Cathyann, BHS’s recently retired choral director. Organized by former student Colin Sheehan (pictured with Cathyann), the 2017 event reunited leads of memorable spring musicals and gathered a huge choir of students whose lives were lifted by Cathyann during her 32 years at the school.

For over three decades, Cathyann served the Branford community and local non-profits by inspiring students to deliver top-notch concerts, musicals and benefits. “She’s given so much to the community, and has raised so much money for local organizations, that I knew I wanted to start a scholarship fund in her name that would live on forever,” says Colin.

An incentive option provided by the Branford Community Foundation helped Colin reach the fund’s $10,000 establishment goal. “When I reached out to the Branford Community Foundation, they gave me a great incentive: a $2,000 contribution if we reached our goal of $8,000 over five years. We raised what we needed on the night of her fundraiser,” says Colin.  “It just shows how much people in the community love Cathyann.”

The restricted scholarship is donor-advised, allowing Colin and Cathyann to assist Branford Community Foundation in selecting scholarship winners. Recipients will be graduating BHS seniors who have excelled in the performing arts (dance, instrumental, voice or theatre) as part of a high school experience that will inspire them all their lives. Students can apply for the scholarship through the guidance office. The first scholarship award of $500 will be announced on June 7 at the BHS Awards Night.

Cathyann feels very strongly recipients need not be on a path to study performing arts in college, explaining, “If they were impacted and they made a difference in the program, that’s going to be carried forward in their lives, no matter the career they choose.”

Colin can attest to that. Following a decade of success in New York City entertainment management and production, he returned to Branford to found Colin Sheehan Events. The company assists non-profits with events to maximize fundraising. Colin also joined the Branford Community Foundation’s board of directors in late 2017.

“If it wasn’t for Cathyann, I wouldn’t have the drive to be doing what I’m doing,” he says.

Cathyann is deeply humbled to know a scholarship has been established which will continue her legacy of helping shape young lives through their high school performing arts experience.

“It’s one more of the amazing things that I can’t believe has happened,” she says. “It’s phenomenal. Moving on to college is such an expensive endeavor, and any help you can get toward that is fabulous; but the thing that matters more than the amount you receive is the recognition and confidence you feel when you’re selected for something. That’s important.”

Learn how you can start a scholarship fund or other ways to get involved by emailing or calling BCF Executive Director Liza Janssen Petra at 203.444.4898 today.