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.
- 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, 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.
Mary Ellen Dawkins
Heather Fournier Truscinski
Dr. Thomas Ficarra
Superintendent of Schools
Board of Education
Eileen Collins Neri
We take the loyal support that Achieve receives, even during tough economic times, as a resounding vote of confidence from our community that inspires us to reach greater heights.
Frequently Asked Questions
- WHAT IS AN EDUCATION FOUNDATION?
Local education foundations have emerged around the country in recent years to enhance and improve public education with private money. These funds launch innovative programs and bring needed resources to classrooms, science laboratories, auditoriums and more.
- WHAT IS THE ACHIEVE FOUNDATION OF SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD?
The Achieve Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that raises funds to promote exemplary public education for all students in the community of South Orange and Maplewood. Originally established as the South Orange-Maplewood Education Foundation in 1987, the foundation is the brainchild of a group of parents and other residents. They recognized that our community needed alternatives to help maintain the excellent education we count on, in spite of the challenges faced by our school district — increased costs and enrollment and decreased state funding. In 2010, the foundation adopted the name of its highly regarded volunteer tutor program. Achieve receives support from individuals, corporations, community groups and foundations and distributes these funds in the district’s nine public schools in pursuit of its mission.
- WHAT IS ACHIEVE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT?
Achieve works closely with the school district to support innovative projects and other unfunded objectives. Achieve’s Board of Trustees requests proposals from school personnel to guide decisions about how to allocate foundation funds. The foundation re-examines its short-term and strategic goals annually to ensure that they are aligned with the district’s evolving priorities.
- HOW ARE ACHIEVE FUNDS USED?
Achieve allocates funds for classroom enrichment, academic assistance, professional development, family support, technology and facilities improvement, and more. Three of Achieve’s major initiatives are:
- Teacher Grant Program. It offers grants to teachers for innovative projects they conceive to enhance their students’ learning experience and deliver needed resources to their classrooms. These grants have boosted technology, modernized science labs, promoted conflict resolution, brought more books into elementary classrooms, replenished school gardens, fostered character-building, provided instruments to in-need musicians and much more.
- Achieve Volunteer Tutor Program. In operation since 1997, it offers teachers a resource for their students who stand to benefit from the help of a tutor but for whose families such services are out of reach.
- Columbia High School Auditorium Renovation. The four-year Take a Seat fundraising initiative, completed in 2014, raised more than $450,000 in donations and pledges to restore architectural details and add high-tech components to Columbia High School’s historic auditorium.
- HOW DOES ACHIEVE RAISE THE MONEY IT DISTRIBUTES?
With the help of many community volunteers, Achieve’s Board of Trustees conducts vigorous campaigns to raise the money needed to fulfill its mission. Funds are raised through annual appeals, community events such as the Newstead 5K and the Night of 100 Dinners, grants and major gifts. Achieve’s Honor Roll donors make pledges of $1,000 or more to sustain its annual programs. The foundation’s 3,000 donors include foundations, local businesses, corporations and individuals. Donations at all levels are encouraged so that every family can participate.
- HOW MUCH MONEY DOES ACHIEVE RAISE LOCALLY?
Generous local families donate eighty percent of Achieve’s annual revenues of $300,000 (based on the average annual income from July 2012 through January 2015).
- HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES ACHIEVE EMPLOY?
Achieve’s paid staff consists of an executive director, a part-time coordinator of the Achieve Volunteer Tutor Program and a part-time donations manager. All other work is completed by volunteers. Each year, Achieve benefits from the help of about 300 volunteers.
- WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Offer to volunteer or make a donation! Volunteers provide Achieve’s core strength and energy, and donations allow us to continue to enhance public education in our community.
- I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS. HOW CAN I GET ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?
Contact us via email at email@example.com or call 973-378-2055.
Annual Programs We Fund
How We Raise Funds
“Achieve tutors and students make miracles happen together by reading one sentence at a time and solving one math problem at a time, week in and week out.”
Sonoko Setaishi, adult tutor in the Achieve Volunteer Tutor Program
“What makes me happy is that, no matter the party, I have received a flood of messages from guests and hosts saying how they truly had such a terrific evening.”
Lindsay Scott, 2014 coordinator of the annual Night of 100 Dinners fundraising event and member of the Achieve Board of Trustees
“There are these special moments, when working with young kids, when their faces suddenly light up, like something finally clicked.”
Zoë Crutcher, student tutor in the Achieve Volunteer Tutor Program
“This is one of very few courses that allow kids to build things, to become focused on the stuff of the modern world. Without Achieve, these students would not have this opportunity. You can see it—kids love being in this class and that is a lasting legacy of Achieve’s support.”
Allan Tumolillo, founder of the Robotics Club at Columbia High School that led to the addition of robotics classes at the high school, and a member of the Achieve Board of Trustees
“It’s heartwarming to see that even folks who no longer have kids in the district still have a deep commitment to the organization. I can’t imagine our district without the Achieve Foundation.”
Susan Grierson, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, School District of South Orange and Maplewood
“Yet again, Achieve has proven what a valuable organization it is to teachers and students alike.”
Susan Brody, fourth-grade teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary School and an Achieve Teacher Grant recipient