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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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5-29-12 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight - 'Facebook' Fund Releases Wish List for Newark Public Schools and Charters…If all goes according to plan, Newark charter schools stand to gain $15 million from fund created by Mark Zuckerberg

Star Ledger - N.J. after-school program sets students on the right course

NJ Spotlight - 'Facebook' Fund Releases Wish List for Newark Public Schools and Charters…If all goes according to plan, Newark charter schools stand to gain $15 million from fund created by Mark Zuckerberg

By John Mooney, May 29, 2012 in Education|

The Foundation for Newark’s Future, the fund created from Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark public schools, will soon commit approximately $15 million to the city’s charter schools -- nearly doubling its overall outlay so far.

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As the new partnership with the Newark Charter School Fund is wrapped up, the foundation last week also released new details and developments about the nearly $15.9 million the foundation has committed to date.

The following is the list of commitments, in size order, according to the foundation:

Newark Public Schools -- Operational Excellence: $4 million

Technical assistance and management consulting for Newark Public School's Superintendent Cami Anderson's, particularly with numerous reforms she plans on implementing.

Newark Public Schools -- Diagnostic and Transition: $2,845,582

Funds to support a diagnostic assessment of Newark public schools in the first few months of Anderson's leadership.

PENewark: $2,034,866

An early public campaign that surveyed the Newark community and sought input through community meetings as to how to spend the FNF's resources.

Teacher Innovation Fund: $600,000

Fund to give cohorts of teachers up to $10,000 in grants each to implement innovative programs in their school buildings. The first round of grants this year gave out $200,000. The next round for next year will distribute another $200,000.

Bard High School Early College: $550,000

NPS offers an accelerated curriculum, with two years of tuition-free college liberal arts program. Students graduate with a New Jersey high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College.

Financial Audit: $550,000

Funding to support NPS in conducting a sophisticated financial audit to better allocate resources.

Newark BRIDGES High School: $500,000

This Newark Public School provides alternatives for children who left the traditional system in order to help them complete high school.

Newark Leadership Academy: $500,000

This NPS school also targets at-risk youth to provide opportunities to achieve academic success and move on to college.

Teach for America: $500,000

Funding to support Teach for America in recruiting, placing, and supporting its corps members in Newark. Greg Taylor, FNF chief executive, said additional funds, yet to be determined, are expected to be committed to TFA.

New Leaders for New Schools -- Emerging Leaders and Principals: $500,000

NLNS conducted an "Aspiring Leaders" program with Newark public schools to create a school leadership pipeline for NPS. Additional funding is not expected, Taylor said.

Parent Call Center: $400,000

Funding to support NPS to create a central call center for parents to get answers to school-related questions and address concerns.

Roseville Community Charter School: $350,000

Provides Roseville Charter School with resources necessary to fund the school's initial scale-up costs, and assist in the first two years of operation.

People’s Preparatory Charter School: $350,000

Provides People's Prep, a college prep charter high school, with resources necessary to fund the school's initial scale-up costs, and assist in the first two years of operation.

Newark Education Trust -- Shared Campus: $350,000

Funding to support NPS in facilitating shared-campus sites. Taylor said an additional $350,000 is likely to be committed.

Education Pioneers: $307,000

Funding to support graduate fellows serving at education organizations in Newark.

Great Oaks Charter School: $300,000

Funding to support the growth of Great Oaks "Tutor Corps," providing small-group instruction to the school's students.

Newark Education Trust -- Innovative Schools Pooled Fund: $250,000

FNF contribution to a pooled fund with other funders that was made available to new NPS school models in Newark, including BRICK Avon and the Global Village Zone. Additional funds expected for two new single-gender schools planned for the district.

Hetrick-Martin Institute -- Sakia Gunn High School: $225,000

Planning dollars to open a new NPS high school, Sakia Gunn, that seeks to provide safe and inclusive education of all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Princeton Center for Leadership Training -- Peer Group Connection: $180,000

Mentoring at three Newark high schools

First Book -- My Very Own Library: $176,000

Providing 10 free books to Newark elementary students at eight NPS schools to create their own home libraries.

Big Picture Learning – Newark STEAM Academy: $175,000

Planning dollars to open a new NPS school that would offer students a curriculum focused on science, engineering, the arts, and technology.

Community Foundation of NJ -- Equity Grants for Shared Campuses: $110,000

Purchase of items such as Smart Boards, air conditioners, and furniture to ensure equity at district schools sharing campus sites with charter schools.

Institute for Community Peace -- Engaging Newark Community: $100,000

Establishment and facilitation of a new community advisory board to incorporate community voices into FNF's work.

Pathways to College -- Continuation of Program at Newark High Schools: $100,000

Support for a local college access program for at-risk youth.


Star  Ledger - N.J. after-school program sets students on the right course

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 7:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 7:14 AM

By Jessica Calefati/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger

NEWARK — Neftali Rodriguez began each day at Newark’s Barringer High School the same way — with an inspection of his belongings and a pat-down by police officers assigned to protect his classmates from one another.

“It’s an intimidating, uncomfortable way to start the school day,” said Rodriguez, who transferred to a Catholic high school after attending Barringer for two years. “That school was not a place of learning. It felt more like a prison.”

But it was an after-school program that helped keep him on course.

For two hours a session up to five days a week, Rodriguez voluntarily participated in grammar, writing and life skills classes offered through the Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP), a Newark-based after-school program for high school students.

“When I first started, I wanted to quit. I hate grammar,” Rodriguez said. “Now I can see the classes were helping me get to where I need to be — get to college — so I can help my family.”

Rodriguez, 19, just completed his first year as an undergraduate at Drew University in Madison.

This year, for the first time, NJ LEEP will send all of its two dozen participants to college — a significant achievement when roughly half of the teens from cities like Newark, Irvington and East Orange fail to graduate high school.

They will attend the College of New Jersey, the College of the Holy Cross, Mt. Holyoke College and Smith College, among others. One student will attend Princeton University.

Students interested in the program must apply as eighth graders, but Craig Livermore, the group’s executive director, said academics are not the only factor considered in the selection process. He said he also looks for motivated kids willing to buckle down and work hard.

“We look for students who really want a different life for themselves through college but who are open about the fact that they don’t know how to get there,” Livermore said. “We don’t take all high-performing kids because we can add a lot more for kids who don’t have straight As and Bs.”

The program is in its fifth year and is funded privately by donations of $500 up to $160,000 from groups like the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, the Law School Admission Council and Seton Hall Law School, with whom NJ LEEP has a partnership.

The program’s work load is considerable. Students must complete homework assignments, show up roughly every other Saturday for writing courses and study for the SATs — all on top of their regular school work.

Jabir Brinkley, 18, of Hillside, said he learned time management skills in his NJ LEEP classes he never would have mastered on his own at high school. Now, he’s a few months from his first day at Farleigh Dickinson University, which offered him a full scholarship.

“When we started working on college applications, and I told a teacher an application was due in March, he had me send it in by November,” Brinkley said. “As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. The early bird also gets into college.”

The program’s success with at-risk youth is evident in the numbers: SAT scores for NJ LEEP participants are 265 points higher than the citywide average.

NJ LEEP also helps students afford college. Each senior is receiving average of $35,000 per year in scholarship money.

Livermore said he encourages his students to apply to small, liberal arts colleges. Though many of those schools have high sticker prices, most are eager to lure qualified, low-income and minority students with generous aid packages.

Most after school programs for at-risk youth in New Jersey are designed for younger students, said Mark Valli, executive director of NJ After 3, a statewide network of after school programs. Convincing teenagers to stick with such a rigorous program is more difficult, he said.

“You’ve really got to woo a teen to voluntarily stay after school and do more school work for two or three hours,” Valli said. “NJ LEEP gets there in part by making the law exciting.”

Along with the classes and college-prep work, sophomore, junior and senior NJ LEEP students participate in four constitutional law moot court debate competitions throughout the school year.

Maalika Hudson, mother of an NJ LEEP participant, said the competion’s oral argument training can be a double-edged sword. It has prepared her 16-year-old daughter for law school, where she expects to land one day — and for success in family arguments.

“‘Mom, please let me get my nails done. I’m always doing school work and I never get a chance to just be a kid. Other parents let their daughters get their nails done. You didn’t work this hard when you were my age,’” Hudson said, recalling one of her daughter’s pleas for more free time. “She can be very convincing.”

Instilling a love of the law in youth is vital, said Alycia Guichard, director of the Street Law Program at Rutgers-Newark. The organization teaches members of the community about their legal rights.

“Writing graffiti, not obeying curfew — there are so many laws on the books that affect young people that they don’t know about,” Guichard said. “Programs like NJ LEEP teach young people to think critically about the law and its consequences.”

Immersing students in law culture also boosts their social capital, Livermore said. Through NJ LEEP, students interact with professors and lawyers with differnt ethnicities and backgrounds. Each NJ LEEP student is mentored by a law student.

“Many low-income students who go off to college prepared academically stumble because they don’t have the social capital, the social skills you also need to succeed,” Livermore said. “By the time our kids graduate, many can say they’ve interned at white shoe law firms. We prepare them every way we can.”


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608