Education, Business, and Community Leaders in Newark, New Jersey Gather for GradNation Community Summit

Education, Business, and Community Leaders in Newark, New Jersey Gather for GradNation Community Summit

Newark, New Jersey Summit One of 100 Nationwide that Will Examine Challenges and Solutions for Raising High School Graduation Rates and Preparing All Young People for Success

Photo by Theo Anderson
Newark, New Jersey – Community officials, business leaders, educators, parents and youth in Newark, New Jersey announced today they will come together on Thursday, December 11 and Friday, December 12, 2014 to examine local data and identify what’s working and where challenges remain in the area’s efforts to prepare young people for success in and out of school.  The Newark GradNation Community Summit (the Summit) will also serve as a launching pad for the development of a multi-year community action plan that outlines how Newark will accelerate efforts to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by the class of 2020.  This plan will include a series of metrics and a process for evaluating progress.

The Summit is part of 100 that will be held around the country over the next four years. The Summits are co-sponsored  by America’s Promise Alliance as part of the GradNation Campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time. 

“The economic and overall wellbeing of Newark is at risk unless we come together to support our children and youth better,” said Roland V. Anglin, Director of the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies. “This Summit is a great opportunity to do that and put together a plan that builds on and strengthens what we are already doing so we can serve more children and families and increase our graduation rate.”

Distinguished guests taking part in the Newark Summit include: the Honorable Ras Baraka, Mayor of the City of Newark; Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark; Wanda Moore, Director at the Office of Community Justice, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General; Dr. Roland V. Anglin, Director of the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University-Newark; Larry Leverett, Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation; Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network; Michele Cahill, Senior Advisor of the Carnegie Corporation of New York; Cami Anderson, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools; and many other community representatives.  

The goal of the Summit is to secure the participation of key stakeholders in a collective impact process that creates opportunity for disconnected youth and engages them in an educational or experiential process that leads to a credential, employment or post-secondary study. The Summit, as a conduit for ideas, focuses on surfacing the key drivers and barriers for disconnected youth. As such, each panel and speaker (even the welcomes) will bring up these drivers and barriers. Summit organizers will highlight the accumulation of knowledge through printed Summit Newsletters composed in real time and the use of social media. The Summit will feature breakout sessions and discussions titled “Helping Disconnected Youth Achieve Their Best,” “Emerging Best Practices in Urban Education,” and “Youth Voice.”

The 2014 Building a GradNation report found that for the first time, our national graduation rate is 80 percent, and the nation is on track to meet the goal of 90 percent national graduation rate by the class of 2020. However, as reported by the State of New Jersey Department of Education adjusted cohort four year graduation rate, only about 68 percent of teens graduated from on time from Newark public high schools in the spring of 2014. The graduation rate has generally been on the rise (in 2011 only about 61 percent of Newark public high school students graduated within four years), there is clearly still much to be done in Newark in terms of getting the city on par with the rest of the nation. Nationwide, more than one in five students fails to graduate within four years. 

 “The progress we are seeing toward the national goal of raising graduation rates is based on communities coming together to support and insist on better outcomes for young people," said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Summits like the event in Newark are rallying pointed for communities. America’s Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in Newark and communities across the county to help advance this campaign.”

Research has shown that when young people have access to more of the essential academic, health and life resources, what America’s Promise calls the “Five Promises” – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others – the more likely they are to succeed academically and socially. Summit attendees will discuss how Newark can better align programs supporting youth around these Five Promises.

The premier sponsor of the national GradNation Community Summits campaign is AT&T, whose support is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to graduate more students from high school ready for college and career.  Other summit sponsors include the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, Ford Foundation, DeVry Foundation, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Graduation Alliance, Southwest Airlines, and the Apollo Group. The Newark Summit is locally sponsored by: the Abbott Leadership Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, the Chad School Foundation, Leadership Newark, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Greater Newark, MCJ Amelior Foundation, the Newark Alliance, the Newark Trust for Education, the Newark Youth Policy Board, United Way of Essex and Hudson County, the Victoria Foundation, WNET, Rutgers T.E.E.M Gateway, and YouthBuild Newark.

The Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC), a collaborative managed by the Cornwall Center, will serve as the convener of the Newark Summit. Since its inception in 2013, the NCLC has grown to include more than 60 local stakeholders from higher education institutions, community based organizations, corporate partners, local government agencies, and philanthropic partners, focusing on increasing the percentage of Newark residents with post-secondary degrees, certificates and high quality credential to 25 percent by 2025. The collaborative supports a collective impact approach to solving postsecondary challenges. Through intentional and meaningful partnerships the NCLC and the Cornwall Center are able to provide a platform for open dialogue and engaged discussions.

“The private and public sectors have a huge stake in this issue, and working with educators, parents and nonprofits at the local level is the best way to ensure we stay on track.  Our collective future depends on it, and it will take all of us working together to achieve it,” commented Wanda H. Moore, Director of Community Justice, Office of the Attorney General.

For more information and to learn how to get involved visit




America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, bringing together more than 400 national organizations representing nonprofit groups, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers. Through its GradNation campaign, America’s Promise mobilizes Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Building on the legacy of its founding chairman General Colin L. Powell USA (ret.), America’s Promise believes the success of young people is grounded in the Five Promises—Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others. For more information, visit