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About the Foundation

Avielle Rose Richman was one of twenty-six children and educators tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14th, 2012. Avielle’s parents, Jennifer and Jeremy, are infinitely heart broken, and like so many of you, want to bring about changes to stop a tragedy such as this from happening to any community — ever again.

The Avielle Foundation has been created to honor their loving daughter — along with all the others who have fallen victim to senseless violence — by truly understanding what leads someone to engage in such harmful behavior. We’re working closely with world leaders in two vital areas: brain health research and community building.

Objective #1: Understand the Underpinnings in the Brain That Lead to Malevolent Behaviors

Too little is known in the field of brain health in regard to what drives violent behaviors.  Clearly something is wrong with a person capable of such atrocities, and there must be a better understanding of the biological and environmental factors associated with these pathologies.  Once a deeper understanding has been established, we can apply these insights to educate healthcare providers and communities about identifying and responsibly advocating for those at risk of violent behaviors.  We can develop and put into practice innovative policies to facilitate counseling, education, and pharmacological interventions.


Objective #2: Foster Community to Ensure That Everyone is a Valuable Community Member

Jennifer and Jeremy instilled this open-minded, open-hearted philosophy in Avielle because they know a strong community is one where every member belongs and is a valuable contributor —regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, political views, lifestyle, or social ideologies.  In such communities, individuals don’t feel ostracized, stigmatized, bullied, or alienated, and the propensity to act in desperate, destructive, or violent ways is diminished or eliminated.  Citizenship in a community goes beyond fitting in — it comes with responsibility.

In all the Avielle Foundation does, it’s our goal to understand the biological and environmental factors that impact the brain, leading to malevolent behaviors. We must build communities where all individuals are included, given a contributing role, and kept safe. We must take action to ensure what happened to Avielle does not happen again.

2013-09-02 Newtown Parade (18)

Our Mission

The mission of the Avielle Foundation is to prevent violence and build compassion in communities by fostering brain science research, community engagement, and education. The Foundation will do so by directing resources to support:

  1. Breakthrough neuroscience research, bridging behavioral and biochemical sciences, and making the neurosciences a prestigious and lucrative life endeavor.
  2. Community-based education initiatives and programs which empower youth, parents, teachers, health care providers, and law enforcement to advocate for brain health in themselves and others and foster connectivity.
Our Scope

The Avielle Foundation was incorporated in January, 2013 and is an IRS approved 501(c)3 tax-exempt and non-profit charitable organization.  The overarching goal of the Avielle Foundation is to reduce violence and protect vulnerable populations. This will be accomplished with a two-pronged approach:

  • Facilitating novel brain health research, education, and policy;
  • Fostering community development, engagement, and responsibility.

With these efforts we hope to: Remove the fear and trepidation that bar people seeking brain health aid; develop the concept of a standard “brain health check-up”; identify behavioral and biochemical diagnostics for early detection of individuals at-risk of violent behaviors and facilitate their responsible use; provide conduits to effective treatments; and strengthen communities, kindness, compassion, and respect. 

Funding for the planned objectives is being procured through private donations, non-profit matching funds from corporations, corporate donations, and grant solicitation.  Grass-roots fundraising and organizational development were the focus of the first 12 months of the Foundation and is on-going at this time in conjunction with the active solicitation of funds from potential individual donors and interested entities, as well as community-based fundraisers.  The focus of this third year has been on planning for dissemination of resources to support brain research and community education programs. The Foundation has been providing a variety of educational lectures, focused on the science of violence and compassion, to parent groups, health care providers, Congressional leaders, high school students, law enforcement, and other first responders. 

The Avielle Foundation Board and Founders have been actively meeting with experts in brain health, leaders in public health and education, policy makers, and community organizers.  These include Nobel laureate Dr. Paul Greengard; Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale, Dr John Krystal; Secretary of Education; Secretary of Health and Human Services; brain researchers at the world’s premier research institutions, including the UCSF Sandler Neuroscience Center; President Obama and Vice-president Biden; numerous Senators and members of the House of Representatives; numerous psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, neurologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, and social workers.  The goal of these meetings has been to gain a deeper understanding of what is known and what is not known in the brain health fields, how to remove the fear and trepidation associated with brain illnesses, and how to most effectively prevent violence through brain research initiatives and community education. 

A research fellowship and grant selection process will be used to determine where the Avielle Foundation funds will be distributed.  The successful applicant will be chosen in one of three research areas:

  1. Novel research, focused on understanding the behavioral and biochemical mechanisms of violence, empathy, and compassion.
  2. Strengthening brain health education
  3. Strengthening and developing brain health policies.

Many of the world’s leaders in the neurosciences, psychiatry, clinical psychology, neurology, and social work have agreed to serve on a selection committee to review and prioritize potential research fellow recipients of the Avielle Foundation funding and grants.

The Avielle Foundation funding of community development, engagement, and responsibility will take on a number of potential forms.  These include providing educational lectures and discussions, supporting community centers and other public meeting areas, fostering education groups, Pre-K through grade 12 programs, and community service grants.  The goal of the community efforts is to empower youth, parents, teachers, healthcare providers, and law enforcement to advocate for brain health in themselves and others and to foster education and connectivity.