August 2017

Taking Aim at College Completion in Newark

Arts and education join to support students

How can cities encourage more low-income students to pursue and attain postsecondary degrees? 

Newark, New Jersey, offers one example. That’s where Kresge works with Rutgers University to combine arts and education in a college access program that supports high school students – and benefits the entire community.

Giana Cook is building college readiness in Newark's PAS program.

Together, Kresge’s Education and Arts & Culture programs provided a $422,000 four-year grant in 2016 to support the Pathways to Achievement and Success (PAS) program, part of the Newark City of Learning Collaborative. 

The program provides educational support and mentoring to about 150 sophomores in Newark to help them apply to and eventually complete degrees at two- or four-year colleges. Students also attend workshops at the recently renovated Hahn’s building, a 50,000-square-foot arts space that houses local artists and creative services, including video production and 3-D printing studios.

Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, says the signature of the PAS program is its emphasis on using creative arts to energize and engage students, who are given the opportunity to participate in activities such as filmmaking or 3-D modeling while also completing SAT prep and academic enrichment.

Students engage in creative arts as part of Newark's PAS program.

“It’s a real melding of creative voice and education attainment,” Cantor says.

This aligns with Kresge’s mission to increase postsecondary access and success for underrepresented students, says William F.L. Moses, managing director of Kresge’s Education Program. It also provides a physical, economic and educational anchor institution for the community and serves as a model for other universities and programs.

New Jersey is among states with the highest college attainment rates. But in Newark, one of the nation's poorest cities, college attainment is just 17 percent.

“In this knowledge economy, educational opportunity is the key to economic mobility, so it’s important not just for students, but also for their families and neighborhoods,” Cantor says.

Giana Cook, a fellow in the program and a sophomore at Paulo Freire Charter School, applied because it offered an opportunity to prepare for college and further her goal of becoming an advocacy lawyer. She says she has enjoyed the photography and 3-D printing workshops, but also values the lessons in college readiness.

“The instructors stress hard work and consistency,” she says. “I know those are key attributes and tools I’m going to need when I get into law school and when I go to college. They prepare you for the real world.”
June 2017

5 Trends that Newark leaders say show schools are turning a corner

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for




Lucia Couto Receives Full Scholarship to Harvard University

Lucia Couto says academic excellence was stressed every day in her home growing up in Newark and attending First Avenue School. Neither Lucia’s mother nor father had an opportunity to attend college and wanted to make sure their children attended college, and had an opportunity to excel, in a way that escaped them. Lucia’s sisters, a teacher at Hawkins Street School and a registered nurse, are putting their support behind her as she begins to plan for her college years at Harvard University, where she has received a full scholarship. Lucia is the Valedictorian of her class at Arts High School. She is a leader and a standout in her focus area of dance. In addition, she is an athlete, a peer leader, and a member of the National Honor Society and Pathways to College. According to her principal, Mr. Pedro, you will find Lucia at the head of almost any activity or organization.

Lucia’s focus at Arts High School is dance. She loves singing and dancing; primarily Modern, West African, Afro Cuban, Ballroom and some Ballet. She said attending Arts has provided an extraordinary opportunity for access to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which she loves!

Lucia said, “I don’t believe in excuses, which is why I take advantage of opportunities afforded to me.” She continued “one of my greatest passions is to reach back and not be afraid to dream and to follow my dreams, regardless of where they come from. Don’t let what people’s opinions about where you come from make you think in a certain way. I love Newark and I am proud to say I live here. I will prove to anyone that I deserve to be at Harvard as much as anyone else. A lot of good things and people come from Newark,” Lucia added.

Lucia has always been fascinated by Albert Einstein and will major in Medical Physics at Harvard.
April 2017

NCLC College Fair Connects Newark Students to Higher Education Opportunities

By Carla Capizzi

The Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC), in partnership with the Newark Public Schools (NPS), hosted the first annual District-Wide College Fair for NPS high school students and their parents at the Rutgers University-Newark Golden Dome Athletic Center earlier this month.

More than 600 NPS students, ranging from grades 9 through 12, from high schools throughout the city, had the opportunity to interact with college admissions representatives from around the country. Nearly 40 colleges and universities participated, including Centenary College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Montclair State University, Morgan State University, Pennsylvania State University, Clark Atlanta University, Harvard University, Princeton University, the United States Naval Academy, University of Pittsburgh, and several community colleges and vocational programs. Several branches of the United States Armed Forces and Wells Fargo Bank also participated.

Throughout the day, students from 9th to 12th grade were able to meet face-to-face with various college representatives to ask questions about each program.

NCLC is an ambitious effort to help Newark become a more economically vibrant city by increasing the number of residents that have education or training beyond high school. Working with a cross-section of 60 partners throughout the city, NCLC aims to increase Newark’s post-secondary attainment rate from the current 18.1 percent to 25 percent by 2025. 

“We’re working to expand the college-going culture throughout the city,” says NCLC Executive Director Reginald Lewis. “We want to make sure that every student in Newark receives the information and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about choosing a college.”

“College and career readiness opportunities allow our students, who have a multitude of interests and wide-range of goals, to be proactive and plan a meaningful future for themselves,” said Christopher D. Cerf, superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “Thanks to the strong partnerships that have developed between NPS, the Newark City of Learning Collaborative and others, students across our city are able to explore the many collegiate and professional opportunities that are available in order to successfully compete in a 21st century global economy.”

“It is exhilarating that hundreds of high school students engaged in gathering information, conversing with university representatives, and taking a very proactive part in determining their own futures.  These students will go to college, and hopefully many of them will go to college in Newark,” stated Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, whose office co-sponsored the fair. “We also expect that many of them will return to Newark after college with additional skills and knowledge to help improve our city.

“I wish to thank NCLC, the Newark Public Schools, the Newark Municipal Council and the five Newark-based colleges that co-sponsored this successful college fair for Newark students,” said Baraka. The college sponsors were the five NCLC higher education partners: Essex County College, Pillar College, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Bloomfield College, and Rutgers University-Newark.

Photo by Brian Ray

Harvard Bound for This Newark Public High School Senior

Malcolm X Shabazz High School Senior, Kim Boerrigter, has always strived to achieve the very best according to school officials.

Kim has received an award for perfect attendance every year since starting school, and when asked about motivation in achieving excellence, Kim states, “My mom is my motivation. She’s always believed in me, has instilled within me great values and insists that I consistently stand up for my beliefs.”

As valedictorian of Malcolm X Shabazz’s Class of 2017, Kim has been accepted into fifteen colleges. However, the proudest moment for Kim and her mom was her acceptance and receipt of a full scholarship to the prestigious Harvard University.

With a passion for Science, Kim says that while attending Malcolm X Shabazz High School it has allowed her to broaden her logical scope.

As a member of the Aquatic Biochemistry Team and working closely with club advisor, Mr. Patrick Murray, Kim has been able to broaden her scientific knowledge.

“Mr. Murray has always reinforced and assisted me in facilitating my research. His support in this process has been remarkable" Kim said.

For Kim, education means, furthering her happiness and spreading the message that she’s going to be “a scientist who is a woman of color.”

As a scholar athlete, Kim is the captain of the Cross Country track team, as well as the Indoor/Outdoor Track team.

She is also a member of the Aquatic Biochemistry Team and the National Honor Society.

In her spare time she enjoys playing basketball and reading. Her favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe. “I like his style. It’s gloomy in a beautiful way.” Kim’s favorite poem by Poe is "The Raven".

When asked about what it means to be a product of the City of Newark and Malcolm X Shabazz High School, Kim states, “Individuals make assumptions about Newark. I feel that because I’ve emerged from a particular zip code that I have to prove myself more than my counterparts.”

Kim also believes that the majority of the skepticism stems from those who’ve never been to the inner city. “We have smart children here in Newark. We just need a few more resources and the belief that we can all succeed. Being a Shabazz Bulldog has supported me and given me a tremendous amount of confidence. I’ve always wanted to attend Shabazz. Coming from "Brick City" has prepared me to face any obstacle set before me.”

From all of us here on the RLS Metro Weekend Crew, hats off and good luck to 2017 Shabazz High School's Valedictorian Ms. Kim Boerrigter.