Township Resident Wins Enrichment Fund Award

Caryn Croll was one of 14 students to receive an award from the O’Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund. Photo: Ruby’s Rainbow.

A township resident was among 14 students from across the country recently selected to receive a grant from the O’Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund.

The fund is awarded each year and open to students with Down syndrome who are over 18 years of age. Each applicant must show intent to enroll in a class or program that will enrich his or her life by helping to deliver skills that will lead to employment or independent living, build life skills or in some way empower the individual to succeed.

Franklin Park resident Caryn Croll was awarded $1,000. She was the only New Jersey resident to receive an award this year.

As more individuals with Down syndrome are being included in K-12 and graduating with their peers, the next step for many young adults includes pursuing post-secondary education, which may include participation in a post-secondary program or simply taking enrichment courses, according to a press release about the award. Financial aid is rarely available to these students, and while many young adults with Down syndrome want to continue to enrich their lives through further education after high school, they frequently do not have the financial means to do so, according to the release.

“The mission of the O’Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund is to offer financial assistance to young adults with Down syndrome – 18 and older – who are continuing to enrich their lives by taking classes or enrolling in post-secondary educational programs,” NDSS President Sara Hart Weir said in the release. “We are very excited to honor these outstanding individuals who are seeking to develop life skills that will lead to employment and independent living to empower them to succeed.”

The O’Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund (formerly the Joshua O’Neill and Zeshan Tabani Enrichment Fund) was established in January 2005 by Joshua O’Neill, his family and their friend Zeshan Tabani. O’Neill has Down syndrome, and he participated in a postsecondary education experience.

Since 2005, the program has awarded 130 grants for post-secondary education to students with Down syndrome.

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