Graduation ceremony held for first class of the Newark Street Academy

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/6/2016, 9:23 a.m.
The first graduation ceremony of the Newark Street Academy was held last Friday at the Marion Bolden Student Center.
Newark Street Academy graduates Newark Street Academy/Facebook

The first graduation ceremony of the Newark Street Academy was held last Friday at the Marion Bolden Student Center.

The program, created by Mayor Ras Baraka, is aimed at disengaged youth ages 16-24 who are out of school and unemployed. The goal of the program is to ensure that out-of-school youth remain off the streets, complete their high school educations and get good jobs. Baraka served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

“Today we are seeing the first results of this vital program, which is reconnecting youth and young adults who were disengaged from paths to achievement and personal success with those paths,” Baraka said. “In doing so, the Newark Street Academy is saving and transforming lives, and building a prosperous and brighter future for these residents as individuals, their families and neighborhoods and our city as a whole.”

At the ceremony, participants were presented with certificates for completing the 12-week program, which taught a wide array of subjects, from GED preparation to nutritional awareness. NSA also offers students social, emotional and academic learning and guidance, community involvement and outreach, volunteerism, mentorship and cultural exposure.

Students earn a stipend incentive for their 12-week attendance; however, their full compensation will be earned upon obtaining high school equivalency completion and/or either enrollment into college, career path/skill education, military service or full-time employment.

Participants worked closely

with volunteers from Jersey Cares as part of their Service Works and Capstone projects. Jersey Cares, under the leadership of Greg Tarnacki, worked daily with NSA and coordinated their weekly volunteer efforts throughout Newark in various locations, such as Goodwill Rescue Mission, SWAG Project Community Garden, Branch Brook Park and St. James Social Service.

Once young people have completed NSA, they will be referred to the Opportunity Youth Network, a cross-sector collaboration involving Newark Public Schools, youth-serving community-based organizations, Rutgers University Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, Office of the Mayor, YouthBuild Newark and the private philanthropic community.