NJ Family That Hit $429M Powerball Decides to Invest In Future of Trenton Residents

Pearlie Mae Smith, (center) sits with daughters Rene Bethina Smith (left) and Katherine Nicole Nunnally after winning Powerball in May 2016. The family plans to invest some of their millions into programs that help residents of their hometown Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

While many dream of escaping their challenges after winning the lottery, the Trenton, N.J., mother and her seven adult children who won the $429.6 million Powerball jackpot are establishing a foundation to help the city.

Matriarch Pearlie Mae Smith and her offspring will launch the Smith Family Foundation at the opening of the foundation’s headquarters in Trenton on June 10, NJ.com reported.

The mission of the foundation, according to its website, is to help empower the Trenton community, cultivate its leaders and transform residents’ lives through grant giving.

It was just over a year ago in May 2016 that Smith and her family caught the nation’s attention by pooling their money to win the Powerball jackpot, which was then the sixth-largest amount in the game’s history. The winning ticket was purchased at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Trenton.

The family purchased the ticket with a cash option, which reduced their total earnings to $284 million, according to the lottery.

Still, that was more than enough for each family member — after individual spending choices were made — to put aside to invest in the foundation.

“I could have gotten a yacht and never come back, but we just have a heart and mind to do this work,” Smith’s daughter, Valerie Arthur, a retired corrections administrator, told NJ.com. “It’s a blessing to have the ability to do whatever you want to do in this life and yet you choose to come and help somebody else — that right there is divine intervention.”

Harold Smith, Arthur’s nephew and the foundation’s program manager, told the the news website that the foundation plans to invest in organizations and programs it believes will bring about long-term changes in the city that has long struggled with crime and poverty.

Among the areas it will give special attention to are education, neighborhood development and youths and families. Funding will come in the form of small-impact grants and summer programming to one-year and three-year grants.

“We want to fund programs that directly affect systems of poverty so we can help change the systems or change the dynamics that are causing people to be in poverty,” Smith said.

“Rather than just helping them find food or give away food, we can make it so they now have the ability to obtain employment, get their proper education in order to be able to go out and get their own food.”

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