Community Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

Eileen Neri Appointed Executive Director of Achieve Foundation

From the Achieve Foundation:

The Board of Trustees of the Achieve Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood has voted to appoint Eileen Collins Neri as the new Executive Director.

Eileen has served Achieve for over 10 years in various capacities. She has dedicated countless hours to Achieve as a volunteer and trustee including co-chairing Night of 100 Dinners, as recording secretary, social media chair, and played an integral role in Achieve’s “Take a Seat” campaign that raised more than $450,000 for the Columbia High School Auditorium restoration. She served as the Donations Manager for 4 years, and in July 2018, she took over as Interim Executive Director, when founder Deborah Prinz retired.

Eileen is a long-time local resident, having attended Seth Boyden, Jefferson, and Maplewood Junior High before graduating from Columbia High School. She has two daughters who graduated from CHS, and one daughter currently at South Orange Middle School.

“We are thrilled to have Eileen as our new Executive Director,” said Jenifer Steig Strugger, President of the Achieve Foundation Board of Trustees. “This past year, as Interim Executive Director, Eileen has demonstrated passion, dedication and worked countless hours to fulfill our mission and strategy. Under Eileen’s leadership as Interim Executive Director we have moved forward with building awareness of our signature initiatives, increased the reach of marquee events and programs and recruited, retained and continued to build relationships with our business sponsors with a unified outreach. We interviewed a number of impressive candidates over the course of four months — Eileen’s combination of proven experience, passion and ties to the local community made her the clear choice.”

Achieve is proud to report that so far this year we’ve raised $292,000 to support innovation and equal opportunities in our school district. Honor Roll donations are up over 300%, the Annual Campaign increased by 38% and Nights of 100 Dinners donations of $78,000 far exceeded our goals. We launched a new pilot Chromebook lending library program to address the community’s digital divide. We’ve also awarded more than 60 teacher/administrator grants and 355 volunteers tutored 350 students.

Achieve had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Taylor, the New Superintendent of the South Orange Maplewood School district, about the future of Achieve under Eileen’s leadership and continued partnership with the school district:

“I am so very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the Achieve Foundation. During my brief conversations with stakeholders, I have heard of the phenomenal partnership that has been fostered between the school district and Achieve. From fellowships and teacher grants, to volunteers giving of their time for student tutoring, there is no doubt that Achieve is having a tremendous impact on both our students and staff. I have personally witnessed the positive influence that strong partnerships can provide to both students and educators.”

With Eileen’s appointment, Achieve will undergo a full strategic planning process to create a roadmap that supports our mission and responds to the changing needs in our community. We will advance the foundation through new strategic initiatives and programming, foster our current relationships with partners such as the Board of Education and SOMEA, forge new alliances with foundations and community groups who have complementary missions and continue to raise money to support equal educational opportunities for all the children in our district.


The Achieve Foundation is made successful by a small group of dedicated volunteers, parents and community members who are passionate about the schools and children in our community. We are actively seeking volunteers and members for our board who reflect all the beautiful and diverse faces in our community — please contact [email protected] to get involved.

Communications Team: Use your skills to reach our audiences through PR, social media, graphic design, photography, writing, digital, marketing and events

Newstead 5K Committee: Do you value heath and fitness and enjoy community events? Join the Newstead 5K committee for our upcoming race in September

Website Committee: Do you love all things digital? We need help managing our website.

Fundraising: Help maximize our impact by raising funds through our key programs & initiatives: Newstead 5K, Maker Madness, Nights of 100 Dinners, Annual Appeal and Honor Roll of Donors

These are just a few of the areas where we need support. Please join us.

About The Achieve Foundation

The Achieve Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood raises funds to promote exemplary public education for all students and educators in our community. Achieve is a registered, tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Many community volunteers join together to pursue its mission by organizing events and campaigns and by seeking corporate and institutional grants. Achieve’s funds are distributed exclusively to educators in the ten schools of the School District of South Orange and Maplewood for classroom grants, volunteer tutors, professional development, innovative pilot programs and much more to enrich the learning experience at all grade levels. Our Objectives include:

  • Support educational excellence and innovation.
  • Foster equal educational opportunities for all children.
  • Advance best teaching practices.
  • Encourage parent and community participation in our schools.
  • Improve facilities to further school pride.


The Achieve Foundation is led by a volunteer board of trustees and a professional staff including an executive director, a program coordinator and, a part-time donations manager and bookkeeper. Achieve collaborates closely with the School District of South Orange and Maplewood, and key stakeholders in the school district are represented on its board.

Over the past two decades, Achieve has raised more than $4 million, awarded 1,000+ teacher and administrator grants, facilitated tutoring for 3,000+ students, supported STEAM education through a free community fair Maker Madness, piloted enrichment programs like Beyond the Bell and the Robotics Club, fostered music education through the Vanessa Pollock Music Initiative and the Ted Cole Clarinet Program and spearheaded a restoration of the Columbia High School auditorium.

To learn about the Achieve Foundation, visit

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