(Newark, NJ) The Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) is the recipient of a $500,000 capacity-building grant, to be paid over three years, from the Prudential Foundation, the grant-making arm of Prudential Financial, Inc. The grant is a renewal of funding Prudential initially awarded to NCLC in 2016.

NCLC is a citywide initiative established in 2015 to help build Newark’s college-going culture by ensuring that all Newarkers have the tools and resources needed to matriculate at and graduate from college. Funds from Prudential’s renewal grant will be used to enable NCLC to maintain a competent team of committed individuals with expertise across a number of critical areas who are passionate about helping NCLC achieve its goal of increasing the proportion of Newark residents with a degree or credential beyond high school to 25 percent by the year 2025 and ultimately sustaining Newark’s college-going culture beyond that.

In 2016, Prudential supported the expansion of NCLC’s capacity by funding the hiring of its first full-time executive director, Reginald Lewis. The initial funding from Prudential was essential to help build an emerging infrastructure in support of a citywide agenda for post-secondary attainment. The executive director’s immediate priorities included the need to define strategic priorities; develop pre-college programming; create capacity to collect and analyze data; and enhance NCLC’s visibility, outreach, and public relations. Prudential’s renewed support enables NCLC to maintain continuity of leadership to build on the gains achieved across these areas since 2016.

In 2018, NCLC launched a series of public conversations throughout Newark to address topics and issues derived from Post-Secondary Outcomes of Newark High School Graduates, a report produced by NCLC in collaboration with the Rutgers University–Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration that examines what college-going looks like for nearly 13,500 of Newark’s high school graduates. Covering approximately 85 percent of all Newark high school students who graduated between 2011 and 2016, the report focuses on college enrollment, persistence, and completion rates.

Current projects include NCLC’s Dual Enrollment Initiative, which allows Newark high school students to take credit-bearing college courses on the Rutgers University–Newark campus. NCLC arranged for up to 90 high school students to take classes on campus in the spring 2020 semester. The first district-wide dual enrollment agreement was brokered by NCLC with the Newark Public Schools for the spring 2019 semester.

In October 2019, NCLC launched the Newark FAFSA Challenge in collaboration with the United Way, the Newark Public Library, the Newark Board of Education, and the other K-12 partners. The Newark FAFSA Challenge is a citywide effort to encourage more Newark high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The challenge aims to increase the city’s FAFSA completion rate to 70 percent by June 2020, 10-percentage points higher than the June 2019 rate of 60 percent.

“We are grateful to the Prudential Foundation for their continued commitment to NCLC and to Newark’s revitalization. In Prudential we have not only found a devoted funder, but a profound thought partner that has been critical to our continued efforts to improve post-secondary outcomes for the city. We look forward to sustaining this work with Prudential’s crucial support,” said Lewis.

For more information about NCLC, visit https://newarknclc.org/