The Friends of Foundation Academies Awards $12,000 in Knight Fund Scholarships to 17 Deserving Alumni

The Friends of Foundation Academies is pleased to announce its Fall 2020 Knight Fund scholarship recipients. A total of $12,000 in scholarships, ranging from $250 to $2,000, has been awarded to 17 Foundation Academy Collegiate alumni to continue their postsecondary studies in Fall 2020. 

Founded in 2010 to encourage community support of our schools, The Friends of Foundation Academies, Inc. is a separate 501c3 nonprofit organization. Today, the Friends supports, enhances, and promotes the work of Foundation Academies by raising funds and delivering services, programs, acquisitions, and partnerships that equitably serve the best interests of our school community. In 2019, the Friends launched the Knight Fund, which provides scholarships and microgrants to help our alumni attend college and earn their post-graduate degrees.

“The Knight Fund is funded by generous community members who understand the importance of investing in our future leaders. We all want to do all that we can to support our kids’ journeys to and through college,” said Kathleen Reilly Streicher, Executive Director of the Friends. “We fund smaller $250 college microgrants to help cover the costs of books and supplies to help kids persist on their academic journeys. We also work to provide more substantial scholarships that we hope will really make the difference in getting our kids over the finish line.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted our students’ post-secondary plans, as well as all areas of their lives. It is during times like these that unified community support 

“The painful reality is that our kids are graduating from high school in the midst of a pandemic and an economic freefall. Many of our alumni find themselves struggling to decide between paying for college tuition or basic needs, “says Graig Weiss, CEO of Foundation Academies. “Our alumni can be the engine for expanding equitable opportunity in America for the long haul, if we support them. We are deeply grateful to the Friends and their supporters for their support of the Knight Fund and belief in our kids.” 

Congratulations to the Fall 2020 Friends of Foundation Academies Knight Fund Recipients

  • Alexis Alford ’16, Bloomsburg University
  • Jennifer Araya ’19, Rowan University
  • Leandra Bonilla ’19, Stockton University
  • Alexis Castaneda ’16, Rider University
  • Ramses Chan Estrada ’19, Kean University
  • Jermaine Charles ’18, Seton Hall University
  • Aniya Cromwell ’20, Mercer County Community College
  • Jeremiah Doggett ’20, Mercer County Community College
  • Jeanelle Escobar ’19, Stockton University 
  • Nyishera Hairston ’19, Montclair State University 
  • Jackie Ketter ’16, Rutgers University – Camden
  • Destiny Pinkney ’18, The College of New Jersey
  • Sundus Reshid ’18, Rutgers University – New Brunswick 
  • Andrew Retana ’17, Rutgers University – New Brunswick 
  • JonBonae’ Shipman ’15, Rider University
  • Marcela Virula ’18, Seton Hall University
  • Khyniljah Youngblood ’16, Boston University

In Their Own Words: Goals and Dreams from Some of Our Fall 2020 Knight Fund Recipients

“I am a first-generation student in my third year at Seton Hall University. I am currently working towards my bachelor’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Once I am done with my bachelor’s degree I am hoping to get my master’s degree in occupational therapy and work in the pediatric field.”

Marcela Virula, attending Seton Hall University

“I said to myself, it’s up to me now. It’s up to me to go to college and make my mother proud. My mother never went to school when she was in Guatemala. She forced on, getting into the states to live a better life because in Guatemala, there was poverty and civil war. She left and moved to the states at a young age. She told me stories about the sacrifices she made in her lifetime, and I am truly grateful. So, I want to return the favor and go to college, major in what I love (which is the arts), hopefully, work for National Geographic, travel around the world, and take amazing pictures of every corner of the world.”

Ramses Chan Estrada, attending Kean University

“I plan to work in the CIA with my Masters Degree in Cybersecurity and Criminal Investigations. I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to help within the Criminal Justice System.”

Khyniljah Youngblood, attending Boston University

“My intended major is Political Science with a concentration in Pre-law. I intend to get my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and attend Law school. My career aspiration is to one day become an Immigration Lawyer and help many people accomplish their dreams of bettering themselves.” 

Jeanelle Escobar, attending Stockton University

“I am from a low-income household, where I was constantly being bounced from house to house. However, I didn’t let that stop me from continuing my education and working even harder to get where I want to be. I am currently working towards becoming an OB-GYN and in a few years, I’ll either be in medical school or be on my way to residency.” 

Jermaine Charles, attending Seton Hall University

“I am a sophomore with a major in Sociology and Anthropology, and a minor in Political Science. I am also a proud sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated and I serve on my chapter’s executive board as treasurer. After graduation, I plan to pursue my master’s degree and work in public administration.”

Leandra Bonilla, attending Stockton University

“I am currently a senior nursing student with the goal of becoming a labor and delivery nurse or a pediatric nurse. My long-term goal is to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).”

Jackie Ketter, attending Rutgers University – Camden

“In a few years, I plan on owning a series of black-owned stores on a strip in Atlanta.”

Aniya Cromwell, attending Clark Atlanta University 

“I am currently majoring in Accounting with a minor in Health Administration. I hope to become a consultant within the healthcare field and work my way up to become a CEO of a hospital one day.”

Sundus Reshid, Rutgers University – New Brunswick

“I am a Trenton native and one of the founding students of Foundation Academy. After graduating in 2015, I continued my education at Spelman College where I earned a B.A. in Education. While at Spelman, I served as the Education Co-Chair for the Spelman College Chapter of the NAACP, and was also published as an author in the book Unsung Legacies of Educators and Events in African American Education.’ During my senior research study at Spelman, I became inspired and passionate about educational programming and youth development in both private and nonprofit sectors. I decided to go back to school to receive my masters in Organizational Leadership. In 5 years, I hope to develop an organization that funds and manages youth programs. My goal is to aid in the development of students and to support families from low socio-economic backgrounds.”

JonBonae’ Shipman, attending Rider University

Michelle Lawlor

Michelle Lawlor, Marketing and Communications Associate, spearheads Foundation Academies’ marketing and communication efforts. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Multimedia Communications from Rider University.