During her time as Vice President of the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation, Beth Bordowitz (pictured left alongside Salem City Mayor Charles Washington Jr. and former Foundation President Kathryn Markovchick) forever changed the way the Foundation operated and the impact it would have on the lives of children and students across Salem.
While she may no longer be involved with the Foundation, she’s making a big impact on the lives of others again. But now, she’s doing it halfway across the globe.
In its early days, the Foundation used the endowment provided by Forman Acton to give college scholarships to select students who attended Salem High School. This allowed the Foundation to reward a handful of hard-working students who were preparing to head off to college, but at the time didn’t spread the power of education much further than that. Then-president Kathryn Markovchick, the Foundation’s staff and its board wanted to change that.
In his later years, Forman deferred to Kathryn on how to best use his endowment. He recognized that preparation for college, including a college-going culture needed to start early and making college more attainable for younger students could motivate them in the classroom as they grew. Once the foundation was formed, the Board wanted a way to bring educational opportunities to more young people in Salem through a college savings program, yet they weren’t sure of the best way to make that possible.
To ensure what they decided would touch as many young people as possible for as long as possible, the Foundation brought in Beth to undertake the creation of the Acorn Fund college savings program. Before joining the Foundation, Beth spent time conceptualizing, establishing and managing 529 college savings programs in the state of Maine. She also served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Finance Authority of Maine, which provides commercial financing, education grants and financing for Maine residents. This made her the perfect fit to lead the Acorn Fund initiative for the Foundation.
“We wanted to build a program that could benefit as many kids as possible for as long as we possibly could, including those who were just about to graduate high school, all the way to newborn babies,” Beth said. “After considering a number of options, we came to the current iteration of the Acorn Fund. Our goal was to create more opportunity. And so far, I think we’re doing quite well at that.”
Simultaneously, Beth worked with the Foundation to discover what else could be done to provide more of Salem’s children with educational opportunities. She had a critical role in creating grants to support after-school programming, summer programming, preschool, and other initiatives for the community. These connections to the community with people of all ages are part of what the Foundation does to encourage academic excellence for students in Salem. Since its creation, Acorn Fund accounts have been created for hundreds of young children and students in Salem, already paving the way for many to be better able to afford college tuition.
“The biggest issue for many families is the thought that, ‘If I don’t have much money to save for college, how do I start?’ Well, the Acorn Fund was created to give them that start whether the child was just born or just graduating,” said Beth. “We wanted to remove any barriers to attend college and empower people to believe that college wasn’t just an afterthought but a fully attainable reality.”
A lot has changed for Beth since her tenure as vice president of the Foundation ended in 2017. Once helping Salem’s students find an avenue to college, she’s now working with the Peace Corps in Macedonia, as a community development volunteer.
If you aren’t familiar with Macedonia, it’s a country in Southeast Europe just north of Greece – more than 5,000 miles from Salem. With the Peace Corps, Beth works for the municipality of Radovish as the city prepares to celebrate its 1,000th year of existence. She helps the city apply for grants from the European Union, she teaches English to people in town, and she is involved with a number of various non-profit organizations across the city.
Life has certainly been different for Beth since moving to Macedonia but she says her purpose in life has not changed.
“Throughout my life, I always wanted to give back to people – whether that was in my home state of New Jersey, my adopted state of Maine, or here in Macedonia,” Beth said. “While my work with the Foundation was certainly different from what I’m doing now, the idea of helping people and giving people opportunities is what motivates me every day.”
Though she may be many miles away from Salem, Beth says her hopes for the town and for the work the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation is doing have not gone away. She looks forward to watching it continue to grow and seeing the kind of impact Forman Scholars and Acorn Fund account holders make on the world.
“The Foundation will always be a special part of who I am,” Beth said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for such a wonderful organization.”