The Achieve Foundation Announces Fall 2023 Educator Grant Awards

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From Achieve Foundation of South Orange and Maplewood:

22 grants totaling more than $31K to support SEL, the Arts, cultural experiences, and more 

Therapy dogs, a new darkroom, cooking classes, and the next phase of an environmental project, are just a few of the programs that have been awarded funding through the Achieve Foundation’s Fall 2023 Educator Grant Awards.  

In total, checks were delivered to across the District’s schools to fund 22 different projects this  fall. Arts programs in the district received more than a third of that funding, while social and  emotional directives were given $7,000; more than $3,000 was directed to special education  initiatives, and nearly the same amount went to cultural and world language programming.

“These grants illustrate the scope of Achieve’s celebrated grants program, which twice a year  awards money to teachers and administrators to enhance public education in the district,” said  Eileen Collins Neri, Executive Director of the Achieve Foundation. “We greatly appreciate our  educators’ dedication and creativity, and we are proud to provide resources to help them  realize their vision of engaging their students.“ 

“We hope that the Achieve Awards help inspire educators to be innovative in their approaches  to teaching,” said Irene Langlois, President of the Achieve Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “We  would be remiss if we didn’t thank our many donors to the foundation. It is through their  generosity that we are able to make these grants available.” 

“I want to congratulate all of the teachers and administrators who have been awarded funding  from the Achieve Foundation’s Educator Grant Awards program,” said Dr. Ronald G. Taylor,  Superintendent of the South Orange and Maplewood School District. “We greatly appreciate  the partnership the District has enjoyed with the Achieve Foundation, and greatly appreciate  the support they have given our educators.” 

CLICK HERE for a complete list of fall 2023 award grantees.  

Columbia High School 

Art Teacher Richard Cutrona has been awarded nearly $5,000 to turn an unused photography  room into a darkroom that will enable students in the perennially-popular photography class to  develop color photographs. 

Therapy dogs will return to provide emotional support to students and staff three times during  this school year, thanks to a $600 grant awarded to CHS Social Worker Jennifer Easton. 

CHS band members will have monthly master classes with college music professors, art  students will have a workshop at the Montclair Art Museum; music technology students will get  a new studio mixer for live music performances at the high school; and all students will get to  attend a mental health assembly given by a popular and effective speaker. 

South Orange Middle School 

The courtyard at South Orange Middle School will get a second round of funding, more than  $2,600, for a gardening and environmental sustainability project that has engaged students,  teachers, and the whole community. The school has also been awarded $1,300 to celebrate  Hispanic Heritage Month with an assembly that will celebrate dances from Spain, Ecuador, and  

Mexico to expose students to the breadth of Hispanic culture.  

The foundation also will fund trips into the community for special education students at SOMS;  the trips are designed to teach students how to navigate stores, restaurants, and other public  spaces. 

Maplewood Middle School 

Spanish students at Maplewood Middle School will have access to new e-readers to help them  increase their language proficiency and cultural understanding. MMS will also receive funding  for a yoga and journaling program to enhance the school’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL)  efforts.  

Awards At Other Schools 

Grants were also awarded to buy more LGBTQ books for elementary students across the  District, and struggling readers at Seth Boyden Elementary School will receive decodable books. 

Speech Teacher Amy Schwinder has been awarded a grant to use cooking as part of speech  therapy with her students at Montrose Early Childhood Center, South Mountain Elementary  School, and SOMS.  

Professional Development 

With the help of an Achieve grant, two special education teachers – one from SOMS and one  from MMS – will attend a dyslexia conference in Columbus, OH where they will learn current  best practices to share with their colleagues throughout the District.  

Achieve grants are open to all District teachers and administrators. The grants committee,  which is comprised of eight volunteer board members, looks for innovative, inclusive projects  that will impact students of all kinds and across all grade levels. A second round of funding will  be awarded in early February, and all SOMSD faculty are encouraged to apply when that grant  application opens in November. 

The Achieve Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood is a registered 501(c)3 organization that promotes high quality education that prepares South Orange-Maplewood School District students for the future. We support our  students, families and educators by addressing inequities, inspiring innovation and fostering community. Since  1999, Achieve has invested over $4.5 million for programs that support public education in our two towns. To learn  more, please visit  

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