COLTS NECK, N.J. In late October at Cedar Drive Middle School teacher, Sara Campbell, was recently surprised by members of the First Financial Foundation with a $416.77 Erma Dorrer classroom grant for the 2019-2020 school year. Mrs. Campbell has been an elementary school teacher for 14 years, and recently began teaching students with developmental and intellectual disabilities at the middle school level.

Campbell submitted a grant application to purchase equipment for Cedar Drive Middle School’s Colts Cafe. The grant money will be used to continue to change the culture of the school - one snack at a time, through service and vocational skills. Using an old technology cart, a small group of Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Lori Press’ students started selling snacks and coffee to teachers at the school. This went over so well with the teachers, the idea was suggested to also begin selling snacks to students at the school. The classroom grant awarded will go toward purchasing commercial quality popcorn machines, popcorn, scoops, popcorn seasoning, and popcorn distribution bags. 

“When we began to sell coffee and treats to the teachers, our students gained self-confidence and found a place in a community where they had been living on the outskirts,” said Campbell. “They became of service, they found a purpose. And a community found something they didn’t know they were missing.”

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Since First Financial began with a group of Asbury Park schoolteachers back in 1936, the credit union has not forgotten its educational roots. That is why its Foundation offered current Monmouth and Ocean County educators seven (7) classroom grants to use at their schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Education has and always will be a pivotal piece of our organization, and we’re delighted to be able to help our local educators enhance their classroom experience,” said First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan.

Stephan also noted that the Foundation committee had a tough job of choosing just seven winning teachers out of the numerous applications received this year. “We received double the amount of classroom grant entries this year, which included heartwarming essays and videos from educators hoping to use the grant money to implement or maintain a variety of creative programs within their schools,” said Stephan. “We wish we were able to reward each and every one of our participants, and after extremely careful consideration we selected the seven initiatives in which we felt the grant money would have the largest impact.”

About the First Financial Foundation: Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit