First Financial Foundation Awards Classroom Grant to Freehold Learning Center

Press Release

(Pictured above: First Financial’s Assistant VP of Business Development, Laura Dilworth, and Principal Smith with Mrs. Dilworth’s kindergarten class).

FREEHOLD, N.J. – Freehold Learning Center kindergarten teacher of 12 years, Laura Dilworth, was surprised by members of the First Financial Foundation with an Erma Dorrer classroom grant for the 2018-2019 school year. The Freehold Learning Center is located in Freehold Borough.

Dilworth submitted a grant application to purchase Osmo’s Explorer Kits, which would help her students to explore literacy and math in a fun and engaging way. The kits include hands on playing pieces and real world creative tools, to help the students gain knowledge in number sense, reading, vocabulary, problem solving, self expression, and more.

“I teach kindergarten in a Title 1 school, meaning that the majority of our students receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch. For 2018-2019 our school received district funding to build new classrooms for Pre-K and kindergarten. This year I have a classroom with walls! In the past our classrooms had been in an open-area. My students are smart, imaginative, energetic, enthusiastic, loving and well deserving of the best education available,” said Dilworth. “I want my students to become writers, mathematicians, explorers, readers, and independent learners. The best way to ensure this is to offer them the technology and resources that neighboring districts may have. I would love my first year in a classroom with walls to include this amazing learning tool.”

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 six (6) classroom grants to use at their schools for the 2018-2019 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,” noted First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan.

Stephan also noted that the Foundation committee had a tough job of choosing just six winning teachers out of the numerous applications received this year. “We received dozens of heart warming essays from educators hoping to use the grant money to implement or maintain a variety of creative programs in their schools such as flexible seating, virtual reality glasses, book stands and shelving, new classroom cabinets, and interactive books and games – to name a few,” said Stephan. “We wish we were able to reward each and every one of our participants, and after extremely careful consideration we selected the six classrooms in which we felt the grant money would have the largest impact.”

First Financial Foundation Awards Scholarship to Rutgers University Student

Press Release

FREEHOLD, N.J.– The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation ( recently awarded a $500 scholarship to Juliana DiGiacomo of Freehold, who graduated from Biotechnology High School in Freehold. She is  attending Rutgers University’s (Piscataway, NJ) School of Arts and Sciences Honors College.

In order to qualify for the scholarship, high school seniors attending school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties were given the option to submit a written essay or create a 60 second video clip. The students must also be attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university. Four winners were selected to receive a $500 First Financial Foundation 2017 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

Essay topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

Video topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

DiGiacomo submitted an essay in which she explained that it is important “to develop good credit because it shows banks, credit unions, employers, landlords, utility providers or really anyone, that you can be trusted, not only financially but in many other respects as well.” She ended her essay with the assertion that “being in debt and paying bills seems scary to us right now, but it’s part of becoming an adult.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan. “Our credit union puts a high priority on education. After all, that’s how First Financial began in 1936 – with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

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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