THE EDMUND J. O'NEAL CHARITABLE FUND
Edmund O'Neal was a graduate of Philip Schuyler High School and spent his professional life serving the children and families of Albany. He was the first African American appointed as principal by the Albany City School District, leading the staff of the old School 6. He went on to serve as principal of Arbor Hill Elementary, and later as Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools for Community Affairs. Edmund was the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his commitment to bringing quality education and other needed support services to the children and families of Albany, in particular those residing in the Arbor Hill community.
When Edmund passed away in 2009, his wife Michele wanted to memorialize his legacy in a meaningful way. Initially, she thought of awarding a scholarship to an Albany High School student each year to honor Edmund's memory; however, after some consideration she thought that supporting programs focusing on early intervention might have a greater, systemic impact.
A friend recommended she call the Community Foundation. Michele worked with Community Foundation staff to identify early intervention programs in need of support, and eventually decided to make her first grant to support the "Race to 10,000" at Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region. "We met with several organizations," Michele says. "During one of those meetings, I learned that children whose parents talk, read, and sing to them come into kindergarten with vocabularies of about 10,000 words, and kids whose parents don't provide those things have closer to 1,000. I wanted to fund a program to try to help hard-to-reach parents learn about early language development, and give them the tools and skills they need to better prepare their children for the school experience."
With a grant from the Edmund J. O'Neal Charitable Fund, Trinity was able to start the "Race to 10,000" program. "I think this would have meant a lot to Edmund," Michele says. "This was his passion in life, and it makes me happy to carry on the good work he was known for."