EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor and his wife, Bibi, raised $60,000 to fund scholarships for students from Campus High School to pursue higher education at their LT3 Foundation Scholarship Breakfast at the Galloping Hills Golf Course in Union on Saturday, Dec. 5.
“I’m the co-founder, with my wife, of the LT3 Foundation and we set a goal for today’s event and I’m happy to say we exceeded our goal by raising over $60,000 to create scholarships for East Orange public school graduates, and my wife and I couldn’t be happier to do that,” Lester said on Saturday, Dec. 5. “Fortunately, we had donors from across the state that came out to help my wife, Bibi, and I give the gift of education, which was the theme of today’s event. The LT3 Foundation was established within the past year to be a civic social organization to opportunities, education and financial resources to our community in East Orange.”
The scholarship money raised by the LT3 — Lester Taylor III — Foundation goes to CHS students who attend Essex County College. Lester Taylor said his wife is the new chairwoman of the Essex County College Board of Trustees. She is a former president of the East Orange Board of Education as well and their two children are enrolled in East Orange public schools.
“Education is a paramount value that Lester and I both share and we also believe in the system of reciprocity,
that to whom much is given, much is expected, and we believe in giving back to our community,” Bibi Taylor said Saturday, Dec. 5. “We believe every child should have the opportunity to have a quality education and go on to higher education.”
“Oftentimes, what people forget is the cost of education is escalating, to the point that, based upon the economic gaps that exist within our society, people don’t get an opportunity to go on to college,” she said. “So community colleges provide and fill that gap, so they get quality education. They can earn an associate’s degree and, in the state of New Jersey, once you earn an associate’s degree, that entire credit load that you’ve earned gets transformed over to a four-year school. So it’s just the affordable route and plus Essex County College provides quality education, because we have faculty and staff that really care about our students and making sure they not only achieve … academically but also are able to contribute overall to society.”
Bibi Taylor said Essex County College and other community colleges offer a prime opportunity for East Orange high school graduates as well as for those from other communities in and around Essex County.
“You have remedial classes for those that are in need, as well as those that have honors programs,” she said. “We have a host of programs that are tailored to helping the entire community at large.”
According to the mayor, the list of public, private and educational officials on hand at the LT3 Foundation’s fundraiser included: Essex County College board members, Calvin W. Souder, Jeweline Grimes and Safanya Searcy; East Orange Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones; Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders President Britnee Timberlake; 1st Ward Councilman Chris James; Janabu Williams and Joy Tolliver from the East Orange Board of Education; and several other donors. Searcy said she was thankful for all of the support.
“Today was the launch of, I think, a wonderful program to raise scholarship dollars for East Orange residents through the Lester Taylor III Foundation,” Searcy said on Saturday, Dec. 5. “Those scholarship dollars would be used for any student that’s interested in attending Essex County College. I think that is such a worthy cause.”
Searcy said she believes it is incumbent on local leaders such as the Taylors to set an example for their communities, when it comes to education. She said the mayor is known for his mission to turn East Orange into a model of urban excellence and, on Friday, Dec. 5, he and his wife showed that includes educational excellence as well.
“This is our community and it’s important for us, as public servants, to make sure that we’re doing as best we can to provide a way for our children that may not always come from financial wherewithal to afford a good, quality education, if they have educational endeavors, and also to set themselves up for really good, lasting careers in the future,” Searcy said.
The mayor agreed that urban and educational excellence go hand in hand, saying it was his pleasure, not just his duty, to help promote education and other positive endeavors in East Orange.
“I’m just so blessed and so happy that people are literally putting their money where their mouth is in East Orange and creating opportunities for our children,” he said. “Fortunately, our family is blessed and we’re just even more blessed to be in a position to help others. Not only are we providing in this instance financial resources but, in my capacity as mayor, I’m working very closely with our East Orange Board of Education and the administration there to take our school district from good to great.”
Lester Taylor said the goal in East Orange is “to create a high-quality, free public education for the 10,000-plus students who attend the East Orange public schools. I think that, by developing that pipeline from high school or from public school to college to career, we will overall help to grow East Orange.”
“We want to have students who have pride, like my wife, who grew up in the city of East Orange,” he said. “As (Bibi Taylor) said: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ Because of everything East Orange gave her, she came back to give back to East Orange. So we’re trying to give our young people everything we can, give them all we’ve got, so they can come back and give back to East Orange as well.”