Training in Trade Professions Supported With Scholarship

The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation’s (NNJCF) Darren Drake Memorial Fund named Romel Vasquez Urgiles the fourth recipient of a $2,000 scholarship award. The NNJCF fund awards an annual scholarship to a graduating senior of New Milford High School to pursue training in the trade or technical professions. This NNJCF charitable, donor advised fund memorializes New Milford High School graduate Darren Drake. Drake, who grew up in New Milford, died tragically in a terrorist attack in New York City on October 31, 2017.

In June of 2021, Urgiles graduated from New Milford High School. He plans to attend Universal Technical Institute in Bloomfield, New Jersey and study automotive studies.  During high school, Urgiles played on the New Milford High School Wrestling team for four years. He also received the first New Milford Wrestling Foundation scholarship award.

Barbara Drake presents the 2021 scholarship to Romel Vasquez Urgiles to pursue studies in the trade professions.

Barbara Drake presents the 2021 scholarship to Romel Vasquez Urgiles to pursue studies in the trade professions.

Skilled Laborers Needed in Trade Professions

As a member of the New Milford Board of Education, Drake recognized the importance of preparing high school students to pursue vocational careers to meet a shortage of skilled labor in the trade and technical professions. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, 30 million jobs are available in these professions, with median earnings of $55,000 annually, that do not require a bachelor of arts degree. Furthermore, a range of jobs exists in the trade and technical industries.  These include positions in construction and manufacturing.  In addition, jobs in the skilled-services industries in healthcare and financial services need workers.

A recent study undertaken by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found manufacturers need to hire four million workers from 2021 through 2030. These workers will fill positions created by industry growth and retirements from the workforce.  Manufacturing companies are predicted to have difficulty filling at least 2.1 million positions, resulting from a lack of trained applicants.

Continue Darren Drake’s Legacy

In remembrance of Drake, and as a lasting tribute to his lifelong love of and commitment to education, Moody’s Foundation provided the principal gift to establish the fund.  In addition, his parents continue to be involved and advise the fund. The public also carries on Darren Drake’s commitment to education and his legacy through donations made in his memory.

The NNJCF provides different options to contribute to the fund.  Supporters may make contributions conveniently online. Furthermore, donors may donate with a check made out to ‘The Northern NJ Community Foundation’.  Enter ‘Darren Drake Memorial Fund’ in the memo line. 
Send the check to the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, 1 University Plaza, Suite 128, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601. Donations are also tax-deductible, as permitted by law. For additional information, contact or call 201-568-5608.


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