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University Receives $10,000 Grant from TD Charitable Foundation

Ana I. Berdecia

Ana I. Berdecia, senior fellow and director, the Center for the Positive Development of Urban Children at the Watson Institute

Program Supports Trenton Initiative in Cultural Competency in the Classroom

The Thomas Edison State University Foundation has received a $10,000 grant from TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, to support culturally responsive classrooms in the Trenton and Rahway public school districts. The support will help educators create classroom environments that celebrate and affirm their students’ cultural identities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant will assist the University’s John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy’s N.J. Cultural Competency and English Language Learners (ELL) Institute and Mentoring Program transition from face-to-face services to virtual professional development and coaching models during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. In this way, the ELL Program will expand from one school district in Trenton to two districts that includes Rahway. This support from the TD Charitable Foundation will make it possible for 50 to 75 teachers of more than 2,000 culturally and linguistically diverse students to receive vital professional development and ongoing mentoring support to provide impactful education.

This contribution supports TD's longstanding commitment to community enrichment through its corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment. The TD Ready Commitment actively promotes inclusivity, economic vitality, environmental well-being and health, enabling people of all backgrounds to succeed in a rapidly changing world, according to the bank. As part of the TD Ready Commitment, TD targets $775 million in total by 2030 toward community giving in four critical areas: Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Through this platform, TD aspires to create a more inclusive tomorrow – helping people of all backgrounds feel more confident, not just about their finances, but also about their ability to achieve their goals. Visit:

“TD is proud to support expansion of the ELL program’s teacher training program to enhance the educational experience of students from diverse communities in dual language classrooms,” said Martin Melilli, market president, TD Bank.

Since 2007, the ELL program has provided professional development and mentoring to 290 early childhood/elementary teachers in 158 classrooms in 99 schools throughout New Jersey. The program helps to teach theory and best practices in cultural competency; first and second language acquisition and English learning strategies; model best practices through simulations and literacy moments; and equips teachers to use culture and language as tools for developing students’ positive cultural identity and self-esteem.

“We are truly grateful to the TD Charitable Foundation for its continual support of this endeavor,” said Ana I. Berdecia, senior fellow and director, the Center for the Positive Development of Urban Children at the Watson Institute. “The grant enables the ELL program to expand its 12-year evidence-based professional development model and broaden its outreach to the local Trenton-area schools.”

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