Prudential Financial Awards Grant to Newark Unites Tutoring Center, Will Expand Center's Services Throughout School Year

"The Newark Unites Tutoring Center reflects the dedication and passion of all Newarkers," said the Rev. David Jefferson, the pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church. "This school year, in swift and unprecedented fashion, parents, students, educators, along with faith, education, and funding institutions – must put bureaucracy and politics aside to join together to do what is right for our kids."

The tutoring center initiative came to the city after a series of data highlighted unprecedented levels of learning loss both within the state and the Newark public school system. 

In Newark, reports surfaced over the course of 2021 which showed just how serious the pandemic’s disruption was on students’ academic progress. Spring 2021 test scores indicated that only 9% of Newark students in grades two to eight met state expectations in math, and 11% of students met expectations in reading.

In March, JerseyCAN, a nonprofit focused on advocating for high-quality schools for New Jersey students, released the first statewide study, “A Time to Act: COVID-19 Academic Slide in New Jersey,” to quantify learning loss for students during the 2020-21 school year. The report revealed that across the board, students lost significant amounts of expected learning in the first half of the 2020-21 school year, with Black and Latinx students losing more learning than their peers.

Now, with the help of Prudential Financial, Newark students will be able to further access crucial learning resources housed at the Metropolitan Baptist Church. 

“Prudential is part of the heart and soul of Newark and has remained committed to the lives of our city for years,” Jefferson said. “Their continued service, labor, and financial support have assisted generations of Newarkers and helped create some of the very best aspects of our city. We are so thankful to have received their contribution and be able to continue helping Newark families.”

For Prudential, backing the center comes as part of the company’s longstanding efforts to support the Newark community. 

"The faith-based partnership that created the Newark Unites Tutoring Center represents our local approach to global philanthropy,” said Shané Harris, president of The Prudential Foundation. “We are pleased to support the center as it provides another opportunity for Newark's public school students to thrive in our hometown."

While Metropolitan helps to provide the center with a brick-and-mortar headquarters, along with snacks, school materials, and security during the tutoring sessions, the center’s tutoring services were modeled after Great Oaks Legacy Charter School’s approach. 

Great Oaks’ model encourages flexibility for the student to meet regularly with their tutor, setting up a student-tutor ratio with an objective to keep the student with the same tutor through the school year, and transparency - setting up parents and students with direct access to their tutor. 

By keeping students with the same tutor throughout the course of a school year, Great Oaks Legacy Charter School Founder and Executive Director Jared Taillefer said that this model helps to provide students with multiple mentors as they continue their education.  

“You have all these role models that have gone on this pathway to college and careers that are in front of you on a regular basis,” Taillefer told TAPinto Newark in August. 

The numbers indicate the success of Great Oaks’ system as well. During the school’s first six years of operations in Newark, it consistently ranked in the 99th percentile for student growth across the entire state of New Jersey, according to student growth percentiles based on state exams.

Upon the announcement of the Prudential grant award to the tutoring center, Taillefer said that the support comes at a time of “great need” for students in Newark and that it will help to share this resource with the broader community.

“We are always eager to partner and share what’s working for our students with the broader community. So we are incredibly grateful for Prudential’s help in ensuring this critical initiative will continue throughout the school year,” he said. “Our schools were built on a model that provides research-proven, high dosage tutoring from Americorps volunteers that help give every student in our buildings the advantage they need to get to college and have successful lives.”

Part of the tutoring center initiative was also made possible with support from The New Jersey Children’s Foundation, led by its executive director Kyle Rosenkrans. 

Rosenkrans told TAPinto Newark earlier this year that when he saw reports that indicated just how many students were falling behind in math and reading, he knew the foundation needed to find some way to address the issue. 

As a supporter of the center and the recent grant award from Prudential, Rosenkrans commended the Newark-based organizations for coming together to help Newark students at a pivotal moment. 

“This is but one small example of how schools, faith-based institutions and philanthropy can partner to create ‘right now’ solutions to our most pressing problems,” said Rosenkrans. “Newark is home to some of the best public schools in America and we’re focused on how they can share what’s working with more and more students across the city and help the entire system recover.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-12-15 03:11:38 -0800