Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León, Newark Public Library Director Jeffrey Trzeciak, Panasonic Foundation Executive Director Alejandra Ceja, United Way of Essex and West Hudson CEO Catherine Wilson, and Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) Executive Director Reginald Lewis launched #NewarkReads on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

#NewarkReads is a comprehensive literacy initiative that will begin this summer with the Mayor’s Book Club. The first phase, a sixth to eighth grade pilot, will be followed by a high school to adult segment in September. The literacy coalition will provide residents of all ages with approaches to improve reading, writing, listening, and thinking skills, focusing on adult literacy and birth to third-grade interventions.

As of 2003, the latest year for which statistics are available, 47,000 Newark adults lacked basic prose literacy skills, and 56 percent of Newark youth scored partially proficient on NJ ASK and HSPA standardized literacy tests. Almost 90 percent of the students who scored partially proficient on these tests came from economically disadvantaged families. These literacy statistics place Newark in the bottom six percent of all New Jersey districts. This gap ties directly to a lifelong economic opportunity gap and has financial, social, and civic consequences for individuals as well as Newark as a whole.

NCLC, a citywide initiative working to build Newark’s college-going culture, jumped at the opportunity to be part of the Coalition.

“The bulk of NCLC’s work entails building and sustaining a college-going culture to ensure that our kids are on track to graduate high school on time and prepared to succeed at the college level. Research has shown that these things are really out of reach for students who are not proficient readers,” said NCLC Executive Director Reginald Lewis. “NCLC reallocated $30,000 of a state grant being shared with the Newark Public Library to the launch of the Mayor’s Book Club. Literacy is clearly at the heart of our work.”


Click here for more information about #NewarkReads.

Click here to register for the Mayor’s Book Club.

Visit to learn more about NCLC.