Achieve Awards $34,000 in Grants; Several Remain Open for Direct Funding from the Community

by Achieve Foundation
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From the Achieve Foundation

In December, Achieve awarded $34,000 to administrators for 11 projects across the South Orange-Maplewood School District. These grants, named in honor of Achieve founding Executive Director Deborah M. Prinz, fund programs that benefit an entire school, grade level or department-specific initiative, and cover a wide range of academic, creative and social development opportunities. A few of the exciting and important programs that Achieve was pleased to support are highlighted here:

One Book/One Grade provided every 5th grader in the district with the book “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom,” and brought the students together to meet author Lynda Blackmon Lowery and hear firsthand her story of the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

A Parent-School English Language Connection grant will foster parent-school engagement and participation for families of English Language Learners by providing free ESL classes for parents/guardians of those students. The goal of this grant is to build capacity and confidence among these parents so they will feel welcome and able to participate more fully in their children’s education/school community.

Achieve was able to fund requests aimed at student emotional well-being with Mindfulness Initiatives at three schools: Clinton (Mindfulness Mondays), Jefferson (Mindfulness Education Workshops for students, teachers and families), and Maplewood Middle (ongoing mindfulness professional development for staff, as well as art and yoga equipment). All these programs will help students learn to employ creative ways of expressing themselves and managing their stress during a formative time in their lives.

See a full list of the 11 recently-funded grants funded.


5 Exciting Grants Are Still Open for Direct Funding Through February 10

While most grants were fully funded by Achieve thanks to the support of donors throughout the year, five worthy grants are now eligible for direct funding support from the community. Donors can choose from the list of approved grants that need additional funding and contribute toward them in any amount. 

Diverse Libraries for Elementary Schools: Help fund libraries that reflect the multi-cultural nature of our community in all South Orange-Maplewood elementary schools.

“Students should be able to read books that are mirrors, where they see themselves reflected in the books they read. Students should also be exposed to other cultures through books and using those books as a door into another culture.”   – Seth Boyden teacher

“Reading multicultural literature is something that is essential to our students’ ability to succeed in the 21st century.”   – SOMSD ELA teacher


Middle School Model UN Clubs: The middle school Model UN programs have a history of Achieve Foundation support. Such funding has broadened the accessibility of this confidence-building educational enrichment opportunity.

“More students committed to the program this year and we were able to bring the cost of attending conferences down thanks to the Achieve Foundation.”   – Model UN advisor

“My daughter, a 6th grader, took it so seriously. She now has informed opinions about the effects of Hurricane Maria on the country of Barbados, which she shared from a podium using a microphone. She’s 12! We are so grateful for this opportunity.”   – Parent of Model UN participant


CHS Science Research Program: Join Achieve in supporting the special science program at Columbia High School.  This class offers unique research opportunities for students planning to pursue careers in the field of science.

“The CHS science research program is a unique program in New Jersey. Much of the equipment and techniques used are not typically accessible to students until college.”  – Science Research Program teacher

“The interest in the program is growing because of the additions to the lab and level of independent research we can do.”   – Science Research Program teacher


Flexible Seating for Tuscan School 5th Grade Classrooms: Achieve partially funded this grant request in December, 2019. Community support can complete the funding and enhance the learning environment at Tuscan this year and beyond.

“Seating options give students a level of control over their learning environment, and allow them to sit in ways that are comfortable for them and enhance their focus.”   – Flex Seating Grant recipient

“Through an Achieve grant to fund flexible seating, the teacher has been able to turn the classroom into one that accommodates different learning styles.”    – SOMSD Principal


MMS Mindfulness Program Expansion: The Mindfulness Room at Maplewood Middle School opened this fall to great fanfare. A team of administrators and guidance counselors has requested additional funding for the next phase of Mindfulness at MMS. Achieve partially funded the expansion in November and roughly $2,000 remains to fully fund this grant.

“Sometimes I get in a fight with my friend. Using mindfulness helps me calm down.” 

“I can use these strategies if I get nervous before a test.” – Students on Mindfulness

I am just reaching out to say that the mindfulness room is life changing! I have already used it multiple times for kids that are having difficulty regulating their emotions.”   – MMS guidance counselor


You can help make these projects a reality in our schools between now and February 10th.


Achieve, the Education Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood, raises funds to promote exemplary public education for all students and educators in our community. The Achieve Foundation is a registered, tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization. In addition to funding educator grants, Achieve runs an extensive Volunteer Tutor program which engages students and adults in the community to provide hundreds of hours of free tutoring to students in need of academic support each year, inspires creativity and hands-on learning through our free Maker Madness STEAM fair, and fosters music education through the Vanessa Pollock Music Initiative and the Ted Cole Clarinet Project. To learn more about the Achieve Foundation, make a donation, or volunteer, visit


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