At a City Hall press event, Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined with Saint Elizabeth University (SEU) President Gary B. Crosby, Ph.D.; members of the Newark Municipal Council; Newark Board of Education Superintendent Roger León; New Jersey Deputy Secretary of Higher Education Kathleen Comanto, to introduce the Newark students selected for the Guaranteed Education Pilot Program. Through this program, the City of Newark’s Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery and The Brick City Peace Collective, in partnership with Saint Elizabeth University, will support 40 at-risk students by providing a debt-free four-year college education through a $1 million grant from the City of Newark, led by Mayor Baraka.
Following the event, the students and families were taken to Saint Elizabeth’s University in Morristown for a campus tour and lunch with President Crosby and his staff.
“With fewer than 16 percent of Newarkers having a Bachelor’s Degree and the majority of Black and Brown students financing their education through debt, it’s critical that more opportunities are created for students to go to college without crippling burdens of student loans,” said Mayor Baraka. “We are starting with 40 of our at-risk Newark students for this program and we will continue to make it a priority to help close the wealth and education gap.”
“Saint Elizabeth University is excited to welcome these students and their families through this outstanding partnership with the City of Newark and Mayor Baraka. This institution is committed to working closely with our students, providing them with the tools they need to succeed both academically and personally. Following SEU’s long-standing mission, our goal is to not only provide these 40 students with engaging educational programs, but to inspire them to effect positive change in their community,” said President Crosby.
“We are excited about this incredible scholarship opportunity, the Guaranteed Education Program, provided to our high school seniors through the generosity of the City of Newark and Saint Elizabeth University. Our students realize their dreams are real and do come true, and that is all beginning today with this amazing announcement,” said Superintendent León.
“Through the $1 million grant led by Mayor Baraka and the St. Elizabeth University’s Educational Opportunity Fund program, this ‘Guaranteed Education’ opportunity will produce 40 change makers: Doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, accountants and perhaps the future Governor of New Jersey. The possibilities are limitless and I am honored to bear witness to the beginning of your meteoric rise…You are from Newark – you’re made of all of the best possible things. Dream big and don’t settle. Our world will be changed for the better because of you,” said Deputy Secretary Comanto.
To be eligible, students must be a Newark resident, have a cumulative grade point average between 1.8 and 2.5, and must choose an academic focus in social work, psychology, education or nursing. This program is for at-risk students who have an incarcerated parent, have a parent who was recently released from incarceration within the past two years, has lost a parent or sibling to violence, is a victim of violence, or who is a first generation college student.
The City of Newark will sponsor the cost of the four-year program for the selected students. The grant represents “last dollar” funding that takes into account individual student’s federal, state and institutional financial assistance. The pilot will be administered through Saint Elizabeth University’s Educational Opportunity Fund program, with the students beginning their college journey at SEU this June.
“Today is a great day for the City of Newark, Saint Elizabeth University, and all EOF campus programs statewide. These 40 individuals will not only have access to higher education without the burden of college debt, but they will also receive the high-quality support and educational experiences intended to assist them to persist to graduation and to prepare them with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and values which are necessary to compete in both a regional and global multicultural workplace,” said David Hill, Director of EOF at Saint Elizabeth University.