A south Bronx charter school received a half-million dollar donation from America’s most convenient bank. In return, students gave a rousing Samba performance as a show of appreciation.
On Wednesday, March 28, TD Bank donated $500,000 to the Mott Haven Academy Charter School, located at 170 Brown Place in the South Bronx. It’s one of the largest donations TD Bank has ever given to the school.
Christopher Giamo, TD Bank’s Regional president, announced the gift before kids, school staff members, and Bronx TD Bank employees decked out in suits and soylent green ties.
The donation, spread out in $166,666 increments over the next three years, will fund the school’s Futures After-School programs that teaches music, literature and art classes. Those programs are sponsored by the non-profit The New York Foundling charity.
“These children need these services and we’re happy to provide them,” said Giamo, who was convinced to donate the money by New York Foundling executive director William Baccaglini over a nine-month span.
“We promised we won’t let you down,” recalled Baccaglini telling Giamo during the process.
For 9-year old Jahkirah Plowden, who participates in the after school drumming program, he thanked his music teacher, Sekou O’Uhoru, for introducing him to Samba music, which has origins in Brazil and West Africa. Students in the class learned how to use the djembe, a rope-tuned, skin-covered drum played with bare hands.
“Mr. Sekou teaches us very good Samba,” said Jahkirah.
Jahkirah was part of a ten-student after school drumming class that gave a three-minute musical presentation as a big thank you to TD Bank. O’Uhuru led the boisterous serenade, using djembe drums, before a packed crowd. O’Uhuru said there is a deeper meaning behind the Samba class than simply learning a musical skill.
“The drums represent unity and that’s what it’s bringing to the kids,” said O’Uhuru, a big smile splashing his face.
Mott Haven Charter School opened in 2008. The school aims at helping children, particularly those in the foster case system, to learn skills that will help them get into high school. In an area that is the poorest congressional district in the nation, principal Jessica Nauiokas said the donation will go to kids who’ve been enrinched by the school.
“I’ve watched these students since they were five-years old and each year I get more and more impressed by their resiliency,” said Nauiokas, who is also one of the school’s founding member.
The donation takes effect in June.
To reach reporter David Cruz, call (718) 742-3383 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.