After standing tall and proud for nearly 600 years, New Jersey’s oldest and largest tree, the Salem Oak, fell in early June. The iconic tree proudly stood for nearly 60 decades before coming down amidst some internal decay and significant spring rainfall.
The tree harbors special memories for the community and holds a unique and storied history. Under this very White Oak, Quaker John Fenwick is said to have brought the first English settlement to West Jersey in 1675. History says Fenwick brokered a treaty with the native Lenni Lenapes under the branches of the tree. It’s not just a vital piece of Salem history, but of American history. However, just because this historic landmark is no longer standing doesn’t mean its legacy is forgotten. For many in the Salem community – including those of us at the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation – the tree was a symbol of opportunity.
Through our Acorn Fund, the Salem Oak will endure in a truly meaningful way. Named after the thousands of acorns that have fallen from the Oak’s branches over the years, the Acorn Fund is used to create and fund (529) college savings accounts for every child living or attending public school in Salem City. Since the fund was created, nearly 900 children have signed up for Acorn Fund accounts.
Much like the seeds that sit inside the Salem Oak’s acorns waiting to sprout into something wonderful, the Acorn Fund represents the investments that will eventually grow to become the start of an educational journey.
Through the Acorn Fund, the Foundation is devoted to supporting the futures of families across the Salem community. We believe every Salem child deserves an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams, and the Acorn Fund helps offset the financial difficulties of pursuing higher education after high school for every one of these children.
We hope the savings plan represents more than just money for college but the financial assistance that allows students to envision a pathway to successfully achieve their goals. The Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation is committed to assisting students accomplish their dreams of higher education. And though our beloved Salem Oak may no longer be standing, its memory will live on forever in the students who have succeeded through the Acorn Fund.