FA Newsletter November 2023
Season of Gratitude
Can you believe it's November already?
This is the season of gratitude and I am grateful for all of you.
Thank you to all of our families who have come out to back-to-school night and, last week, parent teacher conferences.
We can't do this work without you!
FAmily Heritage & Diversity Celebrations
FA is proud of the many cultures represented in our learning community! We loved celebrating our scholars and FAmilies during special events celebrating our community's cultural heritage and talents.
Our FAmilies generously shared several homemade dishes including flautas and fruta dulce, at our recent Heritage and Diversity Celebration, alongside delicious food including but not limited to arroz y camarones, flan, empanadas and tostones from local Trenton Latino owned and operated restaurants Chencha y Chole, El Chapin and El Fogon.
And Cosmo Party Rentals, a Latina FA parent-owned company. brought the FUN with popcorn, cotton candy and a bounce house.
Activities also included crafts, games, free books, toys -- and a dance performance by the Trenton Costa Rican folk dance group, Recordando mi Tierra -- which includes an FA Middle School scholar and a grandmother of an FA scholar.
Community partners including YWCA of Princeton, Mercer County Community College, LALDEF and Literacy of NJ shared resources with our FAmilies. And one lucky kindergarten family won the raffle for a gift basket donated by WAWA of NJ.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, FA Collegiate scholars filled the Info Commons with beautiful decorations for a party featuring arts and crafts, music, homemade Latin specialties -- and even a piñata. Members of National Honor Society and Poder danced, sang, and shared the rich and diverse histories, cultures, and contributions of the Latino community.
Teamwork Making the Dream Work
FA is celebrating our Collegiate girls volleyball team for winning the division championship and our Collegiate boys soccer team for making it to the playoffs!
We also want to shout out FAC soccer players Amyah Spears, Darolin Alvarado, Noel Ingram and Andy Godinez named as All Stars and to the All League Ideal Team — a first for FA!
This recognition goes to only 15 out of 250 league players.
"Our scholars here at FA are models of what it means to work together as a community while continuing to believe in each other, despite the obstacles," Mrs. McRae said. "That's how they won and that's how we win as a learning community with love, accountability, support and trust."
African American Chamber of Commerce Launches FA Youth Leadership Program
FA Collegiate scholars are the first in Mercer County to gain entrepreneurship and career opportunities in the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey's "I AM" Youth Leadership Program.
The program, launched October 27, is providing about 20 FA Collegiate 11th grade scholars with leadership and job-readiness training, life-skills development, and opportunities to interact directly with industry and government leaders. When the program concludes in June, each scholar will receive a certificate of achievement and individual letters of recommendation.
"Our scholars have big plans -- as entrepreneurs, community and corporate leaders," said FA Chief Executive Officer Sheria McRae. "The skills and experiences the African American Chamber of Commerce is sharing with our scholars will equip them to achieve their goals."
"I AM" Trenton Youth Leadership Program is one of FA's enrichment programs expanding learning beyond the classroom for scholars k-12. This year, FA has launched enrichment activities such as intramural sports and clubs including chess, Black Student Union, Poder, art, and culinary skills.
The monthly "I AM" Trenton Program features role-playing, case studies, interactive activities, and career development workshops to nurture leadership skills and build confidence. For example, a career day field trip to either a New Jersey corporation or the New Jersey State House will provide scholars with mentorship and career opportunities.
"We appreciate AACCNJ being a part of FA's community in the pursuit of quality education for our scholars in Trenton " Mrs. McRae added.
Founder, President, and CEO of the AACCNJ John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, said he is proud to bring the program to FA in Trenton, where AACCNJ is headquartered. Other locations include high schools in Atlantic City and Paterson.
"We aim to make a lasting impact on the lives of young individuals across the entire state of New Jersey, ensuring they have the tools they need to thrive and lead," he said. "This future pipeline of talented men and women is an essential component to improving the future competitiveness of our New Jersey."
Showcasing FA at National Events
FA faculty and staff recently participated in the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities conference in Chicago and the Black Men in Education Convening in Philadelphia, professional development events focused on expanding opportunity and equity through quality education.
#BMEC2023 focuses on elevating, celebrating, and energizing Black Male Educators, featuring speakers delivering insights on STEM; Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support; Leadership and Policy Making; Physical, Mental and Social Emotional Health and Wellness; Parent and Community Engagement; and Professional Learning and Development.
FA Board of Trustees President Richard Seigler-Carter shared this photo of FA colleagues attending #BMEC2023.
"So proud to stand alongside these dedicated educators from Foundation Academies," he posted. "It's a true privilege to champion their unwavering dedication to empowering Trenton's students and helping them reach their limitless potential."
FA Chief Talent Officer Shanesia Davis also has been inspired by the gathering.
"We are solving problems not yet solved and navigating territory not yet navigated," Dr. Davis posted. "It is humbling and freeing to settle in to the fact that we always don’t know more than we do know."
As a K-12 charter school focused on closing the opportunity gap for Black and Brown children, FA is eager to listen, learn and share. Thanks to FA Collegiate teacher Calvin McRae, Deans of Culture LaShun Robinson and John Paxton Jr., Behavior Analyst Earl Wallace, M.A. and FA COFO @Andre' Moore for helping represent our learning community.
Last month, several of our Spanish-speaking faculty and staff participated in the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities conference addressing how to improve access to, and the quality of, postsecondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students.
Representatives from our business office, FA Collegiate, school leadership and talent attended sessions focused on improving Hispanic representation in STEM fields and helping students gain experience outside their neighborhoods.
"We left HACU energized with a great understanding of competitive best practices and the changing landscape of education as it pertains to our Hispanic Scholars and Staff," said Laura Desai, FA Dean of English Language Learning. 'We came back with many ideas and initiatives to positively impact recruitment and retention."
In addition, our Talent Team hosted info tables at both events to showcase FA as a destination for educators who are passionate about equipping and empowering Black and Brown children.
Civic Leader Joins FA Board of Trustees
FA proudly welcomes Duncan Harrison Jr. to the Board of Trustees, where he joins other prominent educators and community leaders dedicated to closing the opportunity gap for Black and Brown children in our community.
Mrs. McRae looks forward to working alongside Mr. Harrison to expand FA's community partnerships and provide scholars new opportunities for educational success.
"Duncan, like me, is a Trenton native; and we share a deep-rooted commitment to our community," Mrs. McRae said. "I appreciate his zeal for advocacy and political expertise, both utilized to provide opportunity and access to the Trenton community."
Mr. Harrison, a former Trenton City Council member, said he is proud to join Foundation Academy's independent governing board.
"“I am a firm believer in the power of education and academic excellence as the foundation for success," Mr. Harrison said. "Foundation Academies provides the youth of Trenton and the Greater Trenton Area with the necessary tools to establish a solid educational foundation, paving the way for them to gain access to higher education institutions and pursue their personal aspirations.”
Mr. Harrison currently serves as Assistant Director for Regional Affairs in the Princeton University Office of Community and Regional Affairs. In this role, he strengthens the engagement between the University and community organizations to build lasting, sustainable partnerships.
He is known locally and nationally as a strong advocate for empowering new leaders to engage in political processes. Mr. Harrison was the youngest African-American in the City of Trenton’s history to be elected as Councilman At-Large, serving on Council from 2010-2014.
Mr. Harrison has been recognized for his service to the community by the National Congress of Black Women. He previously served as Associate Executive Director for the Father Center of New Jersey.
A graduate of Delaware State University, Mr. Harrison also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College, the City University of New York. He has received certifications from Harvard University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Harrison also has worked on urban sustainability issues as a fellow with Green For ALL. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
FA Board of Trustees President Richard Seigler-Carter, Ed.D., managing director of LeveragEd Foundation, applauded Mr. Harrison's "exemplary track record in fostering community engagement."
"His dedicated service in Trenton, coupled with his extensive educational background and passion for sustainable urban development, uniquely positions Duncan to contribute significantly to our mission here at Foundation Academies to both empower leaders and strengthen communities," Dr. Seigler-Carter noted.
Foundation Academies Board of Trustees members believe in the power of public education and volunteer their time, energy, experience and knowledge with our K-12 learning community. Mr. Harrison joins Dr. Seigler-Carter, Board Vice President Jacqueline Griffith, Secretary/Treasurer Stacy Denton, Pastor Antonio "Tone" Bellamy, Kimme Carlos, Todd Kent Ph.D. and Carl Seiden.
Scholars Advocate at Trenton City Hall
Speaking at a recent Trenton City Council meeting, FA Collegiate scholars urged council members to improve the community by focusing more on education, expanding community activities, and keeping neighborhoods clean.
In a presentation titled "What Trenton Needs," members of the FA Collegiate National Honor Society highlighted city challenges and identify concrete steps Council should take to address them.
"A large recurring issue with education specifically in Trenton is this ...mentality that because we come from a low income city, our futures are set in stone," scholars note. "We have to change this."
Foundation Academies includes three schools on two campuses in the city's north and south wards.
"At FA, we empower our scholars to lead purpose-filled lives," said Foundation Academies CEO Sheria McRae said. "We value their voices and ideas -- and I'm sure City Council will, too."
"This presentation comes from the heart," Mrs. McRae said. "I grew up in Trenton and returned after college to make a difference in my community. These scholars feel the same way."
The presentation was prepared over the summer by scholars Hobbes Chukumba, Aundrea Grizzle, Brianna Telles, and Jedidah Worrell, with support from NHS sponsor Vianney Anzures, a teacher at FA Collegiate. FA scholars are urging City Council to:
Collaborate with all school leaders to create more education and enrichment opportunities
Improve park conditions/Create a graffiti park
Host and promote community events
Repurpose abandoned buildings/Beautify with gardens
Enforce penalties for littering/ Bigger trash cans in neighborhoods
North Ward City Councilwoman Jennifer Williams invited FA scholars to share their perspectives with city leaders. "It is always great for our Trenton City Council to engage our city's youth," Ms. Williams said. "Seeing and hearing the perspectives offered by these Foundation Academy students is important for us as decision-makers and the public."
FA Making an Impact
Trenton Makes the World Takes is more than a slogan on a bridge.
Those words honor our city's history as a worldclass industrial center, and the determination we bring to everything we do.
The iconic bridge is also a symbol of progress; a path from where we are to where we are going -- an appropriate image for our Friends of Foundation Academies annual report. View report
"Together, we are creating a new legacy for Trenton," Mrs. McRae said. "Thanks to you, at Foundation Academy, we are making an impact."
To learn more about supporting our scholars, visit the Friends of Foundation Academies webpage
Support Our Scholars
With your support, our scholars are unstoppable.
Give to the FA Annual Fund today to empower our scholars
to achieve their goals