On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, TD Bank’s Charitable Foundation donated $10,000 to the Thomas Edison State University (TESU) Foundation in to support of culturally responsive classrooms in the Trenton and Rahway public school districts.

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 as they transition from face-to-face services to virtual professional development and coaching models during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. In addition, the TD Charitable Foundation hopes the donation will support educators in creating classroom environments that celebrate and affirm students’ cultural identities.

“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 at TD Bank.

TD Bank has a longstanding goal of promoting inclusivity among communities with their TD Ready Commitment. This commitment not only promotes inclusivity, but also advocates for economic vitality, environmental well-being and health and promotes the enabling of people of all backgrounds to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

The TD Ready Commitment aspires to give a total of $775 million in donations to the community by 2030. The commitment aims to support four main areas of enhancement including Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. The ELL program of TESU continuously promote similar goals through their work.

TESU’s ELL program began in 2007 as way of teaching theory and best practices in cultural competency. The program also teaches first and second language acquisition and English learning strategies, models best practices through simulations and literacy moments and equips teachers to use culture and language as tools for developing positive student cultural identities and self-esteem.

Over the years, the ELL program has provided professional development and mentoring to 290 early childhood/elementary teachers in 158 classrooms in 99 schools throughout New Jersey. This support from the TD Charitable Foundation to the TESU 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 mentor support to provide impactful education. Also, the ELL Program will be able to expand from one school district in Trenton to two districts that includes Rahway.

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

She continued, “We are truly grateful to the TD Charitable Foundation for its continual support of this endeavor.”