Acorn Fund Provides College Savings for Every Salem Child

PRESS RELEASE - 3/21/2016

Every Child in Salem City to Have College Savings Plan

Acorn Fund provides seed money for college savings

SALEM, N.J. – Every Salem City child will be more likely to attend college thanks to a new initiative named the Acorn Fund, the latest in a number of local programs established by the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation to empower Salem’s youth.

The Forman Acton foundation has established a fund at the Community Foundation of South Jersey dedicated to the creation of a college savings account for every student in Salem City. The initial contribution of $275,000 will fund accounts for children from pre-K through senior year in high school. Nearly 1,200 students will be able to enter the program starting in April, and every child who resides in Salem City in the future will be automatically eligible to have a contribution to an account in their name.

Several states and municipalities have taken similar actions to provide 529 savings accounts for all children, as research shows that simply getting a college savings plan started makes families more likely to pursue higher education. Implementing a plan that not only ensures all future children have accounts, but also makes funds available to all children currently in the school system and preschools, is relatively unique.

“Like the acorn that became Salem’s famous 600-year-old oak tree, we expect these investments to be the start families need to grow something great,” said Forman Acton Foundation President Kathryn Markovchick. “This is an important step in making sure Salem’s youth have every opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

The Forman Acton foundation was formed in 2014 through the will of Forman S. Acton, a distinguished computer scientist, engineer and educator born in Salem. The organization currently provides scholarships and grants to help students, with $897,000 total planned to be disbursed in 2016. Its Forman Scholars program provides college scholarships to high-performing students, and its Acton Achievers partnership with United Way of Salem County established a new computer lab to enhance pre-school and after-school programs at the John B. Campbell Center in Salem.

Franklin Templeton Investments, the program manager of New Jersey’s college savings program, was also instrumental in supporting the new Acorn Fund, which the Community Foundation will administer.

“This is a remarkable program that can be used as a model for other communities throughout the state,” said Sidney R. Hargo, executive director of the Community Foundation. “We applaud the Forman Acton foundation for their commitment to supporting families in Salem, New Jersey.”

The college savings accounts will also mean that students will be eligible for additional scholarship money through the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. HESAA provides the New Jersey BEST Scholarship to eligible students attending a New Jersey college.

“Forman S. Acton knew that education could lead to great personal success that could be used compassionately to serve the greater community. It is fitting that the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation has decided to offer Salem City students 529 college savings plans,” said Gabrielle Charette, executive director of HESAA. “These plans represent more than money; they provide students with a vision and a pathway forward to realizing that vision. At HESAA we are committed to assisting students achieve the dream of a higher education, and therefore we believe firmly in the value of 529 plans. Given his compassion, wisdom and generosity, we believe Forman S. Acton would feel the same.”

Families who want to enroll or get more information should contact the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation directly by email at or by phone at 844-4-FORMAN (436-7626).


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