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New Jersey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Soaring Beyond Expectations, Aferschool Programs

New Jersey Department of Education Office of Student Support Services 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and Out-of-School Time Resources
New Jersey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Soaring Beyond Expectations, Aferschool Programs


Project Director: James Castillo
32 Spruce Street
Paterson, NJ 07501
Phone: 973-413-1627
Fax: 973-413-1620

County:  Passaic

Serving School District: Paterson Public School District

CCLC Sites: John F Kennedy Educational Complex: School of Architecture and Construction Trades (SACT), School of Business, Technology, Marketing & Finance (BTMF), School of Education & Training (SET), School of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM).

Partners:  Montclair State University (MSU), St. Joe's Medical Center, Paterson Public Schools, Bangladeshi-  American Youth Association (BAYA)

Serving Grade Level:  9th -12th

No. of Students to be Served: 208

No. of Adults to be Served: 104

Times of Service: After-school: 3-6 PM, Summer: 8-1 PM

ABSTRACT: Despite its illustrious past as a center of commerce and industry, Paterson has fallen into decline and today is a largely distressed urban center. Paterson is the third largest city in New Jersey, housing 146,000 residents.  The 2011 Census shows 29% of Paterson residents living below the poverty level and 41.6% of children (ages 0 to 18 ) living below the poverty level. There is a tradition of limited educational achievement in Paterson. Only 9.8% of Paterson residents have a college degree, and only 40% have a high school degree. With such limited education, many Paterson residents struggle to find employment (16.3% unemployment rate in March 2013). Having few role models with college or high school degrees, Paterson children are more likely to drop out of high school or not pursue a college degree.

Students in our elementary and high schools struggle with language arts and literacy, as evidenced by low state standardized test scores. In today's economy, a college education is one of the most important factors determining future success, yet more than 50% of Paterson's high schools aged youth never make it to the 12th grade. Thus, NJCDC selected the Career Exploration theme and designed the Compete For Life (CFL) program to break the cycle of collegiate underachievement in Paterson. Our program goal is to create a career/college-bound mentality among our students and families so that they have the necessary tools to compete in school and in life. CFL will be implemented at the John F. Kennedy High School Educational Complex, which is composed of four career theme-based high school academies.  We will serve 52 students at each of the academies for a total of 208 students between October 1, 2013 and end on August 1, 2014.

NJCDC has established partnerships with St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center (health program component), Paterson Public Schools (programming space), and the Bangladeshi American Youth Association (parent engagement).  Notably, we will be partnering with Montclair State University (MSU), one of the top tiered northern regional universities. MSU will lead major components of the CFL model by providing human resources, training, and evaluation. An institution of higher learning such as MSU is already in the business of equipping individuals with the tools to compete for life. Through our close partnership, they will help us prepare students with the skills needed to succeed in college and beyond.

Because of the students' career-driven academic focus, we will implement a host of career exploration related activities that both compliment and supplement the work being done during the school day. For academic remediation, we will use student data driven curriculum derived from real-time assessment software. Our academic enrichment component will be a combination of advanced skills based instruction, field trips, and hands-on project-based learning. Our arts component, taught by professional Broadway performers, will provide students with an introduction to various artistic genres so that they can get a sense of the arts and can consider what type of artistic expression they will pursue in college. Our health component will be implemented by St. Joseph's doctors and dieticians to ensure quality, accurate, age-appropriate information. Knowledgeable and committed upperclassmen from MSU's Urban Education Center will administer an evidence based character education curriculum for our youth development component. Chef Angie of Creative Cooks, a professional chef featured on the Food Network, will teach students how to cook healthy and balanced yet culturally appropriate meals. Finally, the Bangladeshi American Youth Association will recruit and engage parents in enrichment activities (ESL, FAFSA) designed to help them stay invested in their child's college process. We will teach the parents the importance of getting involved in their student's education and college process.

After 19 years of providing services in Paterson, NJCDC has had the opportunity to respond to a variety of community needs ranging from youth development and education to supportive housing and community development. One root-cause of most community problems stems from the lack of quality youth programming and education. In response, NJCDC completed an education-focused five-year year strategic plan, which launches the Great Falls Promise Neighborhood Initiative.  The Initiative seeks to transform the lives of nearly 5,000 low-income children living in our target neighborhood in Paterson. Our goal is to ensure that every child in the neighborhood reach adulthood college and/or career ready.  In July of 2011, the State of New Jersey, with Governor Christie as the lead, designated NJCDC as the lead entity to replicate the work of the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ) in our neighborhood in Paterson. In creating the Great Falls Promise Neighborhood, NJCDC is replicating the pioneering and acclaimed work of the HCZ in New York.