Meet the 2016 Awardees

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Two promising performing arts students have received the first college scholarships from a fund honoring Bernie G. Yvon, a beloved Chicago-area actor who passed away in 2014. The scholarships were made possible through the Bernie G. Yvon Memorial Fund, which was established at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida by his parents and supported by contributions of hundreds of friends and colleagues.

Inaugural awards of $1000 each have been presented to Kamilah Lay of Greendale, WI (Greendale High School) and Emma Swain of Gurnee, IL (Warren Township High School).

Kamilah Lay

Kamilah Lay

Emma Swain

Emma Swain

Kamilah was deemed the most outstanding performing arts applicant by the scholarship committee, and will be a sophomore at Illinois Wesleyan University.  Emma was deemed the most promising performing arts applicant by the scholarship committee, and she will attend Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. 

“Bernie was pretty good at just about any part of the performing arts—singing, dancing and acting,” his father, Professor Bernard Rene Yvon, noted when asked about his son, and the scholarship he and his wife Gail established. “He was pretty much an All-American person, playing a wide variety of characters. He had a happy life, and he made many other people happy. We want to give others the opportunity to do the same.”

The Bernie G. Yvon Memorial Fund will make scholarships annually in Bernie’s memory; if you would like to donate to the fund, please go to and type Yvon in the search box. 

About Bernie G. Yvon (1964-2014)

Bernie was raised in Old Town, Maine and after graduation from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, quickly became a fixture in Chicago-area live theater.  For three decades, he was the consummate song-and-dance man, performing in such classics as Cabaret, Mary Poppins, The Music Man, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  The majority of his career was in Chicago, but he played the role of Harry Houdini in the national tour of Ragtime, and also worked on Broadway and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. 

About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida (, Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 52nd year, the Foundation has assets of $313 million and has made grants of nearly $369 million since 1964.