September 8, 2021
Justin Accardi Foundation for the Arts Launched
By Desa Philadelphia
Justin Accardi found his joy in the arts. As a student in the Business of Cinematic Arts (BCA) program, he was as much interested in what was happening on the stage or in front of the camera as what it took to make it all happen. Accardi, who died in 2019, was a talented performer himself. He sang acapella with UnderSCore and performed with sketch comedy while attending USC. He also enjoyed losing himself in a movie in any of the screening rooms at the School of Cinematic Arts.
Accardi was also a dedicated student, earning a USC Dean’s scholarship which is awarded for academic excellence, leadership, talent and service. BCA professor Daniel Sussman describes him as someone who eagerly participated in class. This was a bright and enlightened young man who had a vivacious desire to participate in the business of story- telling,” says Sussman. “Justin brought others around him real joy with his passion, his love of music and reading, and the nature of the truly intelligent questions he peppered me with week after week.
Following his death, Accardi’s parents Selena and Jim established the Justin Accardi Foundation for the Arts to provide grants and scholarships to students studying the cinematic arts. The foundation’s stated goal is to fund projects “that capture Justin’s visionary spirit and reflect his positive impact through the arts.”
This semester the foundation announced its latest initiative, the Justin Accardi Foundation Wellness Events Fund, which will provide programmatic support for wellness practices. The fund will underwrite a variety of activities including hangouts, movie and game nights, and other events that encourage students to take care of their mental health, access resources, and build community with their classmates.
“Justin’s passion was for the entertainment business and it's impact on society," says Selena and Jim Accardi. “We could not find a better way to honor him and his passion for the arts than to establish a fund that supports students with that same passion by providing wellness and mental health resources.” Sussman says Accardi’s reverence for cinema was evident in his classes. “Justin was a true believer in the importance that film and television bring as an equal conduit to the understanding of the human experience,” he says.
The Justin Accardi Foundation’s initial initiatives have been in partnership with SCA. His parents says that’s because doing so would honor the industry he loved. They say they have also found a supportive partner in the School. “We applaud the School of Cinematic Arts for taking this compassionate wellness initiative and hope it will be a model for other schools to follow,” say the Accardis. “To have Justin's legacy of caring for others live on infinitely through this thoughtful endeavor means so much to us."
Activities funded by Justin Accardi Foundation Wellness Events Fund will be programmed by SCA staff and will be open to SCA and BCA USC students.