EAST ORANGE, NJ — The future is bright for East Orange Campus High Class of 2017 senior class President Rael Cherry and other city high school graduates interested in pursuing a higher education, thanks to the opportunities available to them through the Lester Taylor III Foundation Civic Leadership Academy.
Cherry, who graduated with his classmates Friday, June 23, was awarded a scholarship by Mayor Lester Taylor and his wife Bibi’s LT3 Foundation at the third annual Lester Taylor III Foundation Scholarship Awards and Charity Golf Fundraiser on Monday, June 19. The ceremony took place at the recently improved city-owned golf course that many have described as the jewel in the crown of East Orange’s assets, although it’s not actually located in the city.
“My name is Raell Chery and I’m currently the senior class president of Campus High School and I graduate this Friday,” said Cherry on Monday, June 19, to a round of applause from the Taylors and their golfing guests. “The LT3 Civic Leadership Academy has taught me moreso how to be more sociable, because I’m not that sociable as a speaker, so it’s opened me as a social speaker, as well as gotten me involved in government in the municipal level and in my own city. I just became able to vote, so that was a good thing, too. And altogether, through LT3, they also got me a summer job in East Orange and I start on July 5. All in all, I’m very sad to leave here, even though I’m going on to bigger and better things.”
Cherry plans to attend Delaware State University in the fall and dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
“I’ll be attending Delaware State University this fall, studying pre-management,” said Cherry on Friday, June 23. “I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to open two business — one will be a tackle shop in New York, another will be a tackle shop in Washington, D.C. I leave for college on Aug. 6, and I want to say to my classmates: Stay strong and never give up.”
Cherry’s parting sentiments to his East Orange Campus High School classmates are not the LT3 Foundation’s motto, but they do embody the spirit of urban excellence the Taylors wanted to instill when they founded their organization. The LT3 Foundation, founded in 2015 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing opportunities that will foster civic engagement, leadership, responsibility and pride among the youth in East Orange.
Bibi Taylor is a product of the East Orange public schools and a former East Orange Board of Education president; she currently serves as president of the Essex County College Board of Trustees.
According to the Taylors, their foundation is focused on providing financial support through grants and programs to enhance the lives of the residents of East Orange and the scholarships are awarded annually to students planning to pursue their higher education dreams at Essex County College and other institutions of higher learning.
The LT3 Foundation raised more than $60,000 in December 2015 at its first LT3 Scholarship Breakfast fundraiser at the Galloping Hills Golf Course in Union Township and followed that up by raising $60,000 in 2016 at its annual breakfast fundraiser at that Union County golf course. But this year, Lester and Bibi didn’t have to leave East Orange, figuratively speaking, to find a suitable venue to have the annual LT3 Foundation event, even though their new home facility is technically in Millburn.
“This just in: With a very, very affordable price of $175 per golfer, because this is a public course and we wanted to keep it reasonable, we raised over $55,000 today,” said Lester on Monday, June 19, at the scholarship awards and fundraiser. “Thank you all, on behalf of Bibi and myself. We can’t thank you enough for coming out today.”
Lester Taylor said the June 19 event was “the first golf outing at the new and improved East Orange Golf Course.”
“The LT3 Foundation, quite frankly, wanted to put our money where our mouth is and support this asset which is so important to the future of the city of East Orange,” Taylor said. “We have invested over $3.5 million in the golf course, $4 million here; this is something that we’re so proud of and we’re just very happy that LT3 Foundation can inaugurate and open and christen this asset right here and we welcome you all here. We hope you all come back and spend your time on the golf course.”
Davon Diggs, 18, is another member of the East Orange Campus High School Class of 2017. He plans to enroll in Essex County College in the fall, but was unaware he could potentially do so with some financial assistance from the Taylors.
“That does sound like a good thing now that I know about it and that it’s available,” Diggs said June 23, when he heard about the available scholarships. “I’m definitely going to look into it. Every little bit helps.”
For more information and scholarship applications from the LT3 Foundation, visit www.lt3foundation.org.