August Newsletter

Happy New (School) Year!


Dear Families and Friends,

I am proud to launch the 2023-24 academic year at Foundation Academies with each of you.

We had a great time celebrating the first week of school at Thunder Ballpark and are looking forward to seeing you all at our FAmily Reunion Back-to-School events.

Remember, your presence is a gift and our goal is to have 95% of our families engaged in our school events this year. So mark your calendars and let's show our scholars the value of education in their lives and in the city of Trenton.

Please enjoy our FA Makes video created by Julio Delgado, FA Class of '19 – and see how together, we make a difference.

In community,

Sheria McRae

Kicking Off a Great Year


Foundation Academy kicked off new programs and welcomed more than 1,000 scholars K-12 as classes began August 21.

This year, FA introduced FA Elementary School, a merger of our early grades into one K-5 learning community, led by former Primary School leaders Kheri Freeman and Brittany Greco. Combining primary and intermediate schools provides our youngest scholars with a more streamlined and consistent learning experience and allows us to provide new learning opportunities.

We will soon be launching intramural sports, introduction to trades programs for grades 9-12, and clubs including chess, photography, robotics, coding, and animation. (read more about enrichment below)

We are excited to welcome all our FAmilies to upcoming FAmily Reunion Back-to-School Nights for Elementary (Sept 8), Middle School (Sept 15) and FA Collegiate (Sept. 29). Events will feature free food, music, games and the opportunity to talk with teachers and school leaders. Join us from 4-6 pm at 363 W State St. or FAC Athletic Center, 719 Cass St.

Together, we can make this FA’s best year ever!

Enrichment Programs Expand Horizons


At Foundation Academy, enrichment programs take learning beyond the classroom. Our programs have enabled scholars to pursue careers in filmmaking, start their own business, and return to our classrooms as teachers and role models.

This year, we are launching clubs including chess, Black Student Union, Poder, along with pop-up clubs for art and culinary skills. With support from the Princeton Area Community Fund, we will be creating programs focused on mental health, nutrition and diversity.

Scholars will be surveyed to identify their interests and talents with responses used to inform what clubs, field trips and programs are offered throughout the year.

Enrichment Director Corin Rushing-Francis, a former Intermediate School dean, is seeking community partners to provide scholars K-12 new experiences and opportunities.

We are grateful to the Kiwanis Club of Trenton for introducing Key Club, and to APEX for programs introducing trade careers, to our Collegiate scholars. Learn more about partnering with us! Email

FA Night at the Ballpark


FAmilies and scholars joined staff and friends for FA Night at Thunder Ballpark on August 26.

An Elementary School scholar got to meet the Thunder bat dogs and tossed out a first pitch before the game.

Special thanks to Friends of Foundation Academies Leadership Council Member Jon Bodnar, general manager of Trenton Thunder Baseball Club, and our MVP Sponsor Rotary Club of Trenton for supporting our FAmily night at Thunder Ballpark.

Scholars and families enjoyed free admission, along with a free hot dog or pretzel – and a fireworks display following the Thunder victory!

Congratulations Class of 2023

FAC Class of 2023

The Class of 2023 -- Foundation Academies’ tenth graduating class -- includes more than 70 scholars living in Trenton. The Class already has achieved many goals — succeeding through high school years including virtual, hybrid and in-person instruction. About two dozen scholars are the first generation committed to college.

Graduates were accepted into colleges or universities including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Kean University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rider University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Stockton University, The College of New Jersey, and Mercer County Community College, among others. 

Class members have been awarded more than $9 million total in scholarship and awards. Three graduating seniors are entering military service, JanCarlo Corado and Emmanuel Morrissey are joining the US Marine Corps, and Lauren Colop is joining the US Air Force.

This year’s graduation ceremony featured speeches by valedictorian Deena Vincente-De Leon, salutatorian Giselle Torres, and keynote remarks by Jennica Carmona, founder of Sí Se Puede Productions, LLC, a theater and film production company whose mission is to produce artistic projects that raise awareness of social justice issues.

Each year, the John D. Spears’ Knight Scholarship awards are announced at graduation for scholars nominated by classmates and selected by teachers, who best represent the essence of Foundation Academy’s mascot, the Knight, by personifying our core values of caring, respect, responsibility, and honesty.

The 2023 Knight Scholars are Emonie Eugene, who will be studying electrical and computer engineering at The College of New Jersey, and Nodalys Garcia-Soto, who will study communications at Rider University.

Knight Scholars Changing the World


FA Collegiate 2023 Round Table Scholars are headed to different colleges and pursuing different careers. Yet all five share a commitment to making our community – and world – a better place.

Alejandro Aponte will be attending the University of Richmond to study business and finance. In addition to playing volleyball and being a member of National Honor Society, Alejandro also invests time in community service, prepping and providing meals for those in need. 

Hafiza Malik, another National Honor Society member who also worked on the FA Collegiate yearbook staff, is headed to The College of New Jersey. Hafiza also values her time volunteering at Zubaida Foundation's Islamic Sunday School as a teacher assistant.

Marleny Rodriguez describes herself as future-focused, persistent, and flexible. A member of the Teen Advisory Group for the Trenton Free Public Library, she will be attending Stockton University to become a social worker on her way to obtaining a graduate degree in psychology.

Xavier Smith, captain of both the FA varsity basketball and soccer teams, is headed to Rider University to pursue a career in the classroom – inspired by his volunteer work in the FA Middle School.

Deena Vicente-De Leon, our Class of 2023 valedictorian, will pursue a biology degree at The College of New Jersey. Active in UNITY, Poder, National Honor Society and yearbook, Deena’s career choice was inspired by her high school classes in anatomy and physiology.

Round Table Scholars are selected based on applications, recommendations and interviews by a Friends of Foundation Academies committee. Round Table Scholarships provide $12,000 over four years to help offset college costs.

FA Wins African American History Bowl

FA wins African American History Bowl

FA Collegiate won first place in the 2023 Mercer County African American History Bowl, the kick-off event to a countywide Juneteenth celebration. 

"Our scholars displayed what it means to function as community, in community. They volunteered to take on extra studying so they could represent Foundation Academy Collegiate in this event for the first time," said FA CEO Sheria McRae, who led the FA cheering section at the NJ State Museum. "Their preparation, collaboration, confidence, and celebration paid off with a victory and we are proud. What an inspiration they are for our entire school community."

The History Bowl, sponsored by the African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County and the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Inc. Pi Chapter, pit several high school teams in competition to demonstrate the most knowledge regarding African American history based on a series of quiz questions. Teams chose questions worth points and scored with correct responses. 

FA’s team, competing for the first time, won with 2200 points, compared to 1800 by the Lawrence High School team. The FA team, coached by Collegiate Dean of Culture Francisca Deleon, included Jedidah Worrell, Hobbes Chukumba, Nehemiah Robinson, Tauri Garner, Melvina Toogbabu, and alternate Aundrea Grizzle.

FA Collegiate teammates gathered three times a week for several weeks to study and strategize, preparing to answer questions about Arts, History, Politics, Military, Science, and African Civilization.

New leaders for Trustees and Friends of FA


FA Board of Trustees recently celebrated Kimme Carlos for her tenure as president and welcomed Richard Seigler-Carter to the role. 

Mr. Seigler-Carter joined the Board in 2022 after visiting FA in his role as Managing Director at LeveragED Foundation. Before joining the LeveragED team, Richard served as Managing Director of Schools at Success Academy, managing a portfolio of 13 elementary and middle schools.

He received his BS from SUNY College at Old Westbury, MBA from University of Phoenix and Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University. See his bio here

Ms. Carlos remains an active member of our board.

Friends of Foundation Academies welcomes new chairman Don Hoffman, along with new members Fitzroy Dawkins and Jørgen Bundgaard Hansen.

Mr. Hoffman is a former Senior Partner of JP Morgan Partners, and has been a private equity investor
for over 35 years. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BBA from Hofstra

He is Chairman Emeritus of Penn Medicine Princeton Healthcare System. He served as
Chairman when Princeton Healthcare built a $500 million replacement facility and raised $175
million, a record amount for a community hospital in the US.

Don helped HomeFront eliminate family homelessness in Mercer County. He served as
Chairman of the Board and led two successful capital campaigns, including the creation of a
nationally recognized campus that provides shelter, medical care, job training and healing for
previously homeless families.

Dr. Fitzroy Dawkins, of Princeton, is a Principal Medical Consultant with Data Revive of the Validant group of companies, a global, full-service life science consulting firm. He is a medical oncologist in the Biotech industry, with more than 17 years of experience leading translational and clinical trials.

Jørgen Bundgaard Hansen, also of Princeton, is a board member and senior advisor working with several venture or private equity-backed medical device companies. He recently was the Chief Executive Officer, and a member of the Board of Directors, of Ivenix based Boston, MA.

Special thanks to Howie Powers, past chair of FOFA, for his leadership and support. Over the past 12 years, FOFA has helped raise nearly $2.7 million in support of FA scholars.

The Friends of Foundation Academies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to attracting donations, program partners and volunteers supporting learning opportunities for our scholars. 

Support Our Scholars


With your support, we can actualize Our Purpose
to dismantle injustice and create a more equitable society
-- one scholar at a time.

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Michelle Ruess