October 16, 2023


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Newark, NJ – October16, 2023 — MayorRas J. Baraka announced today that the City of Newark launched a 15-week “RaiseYour Voice” Leadership Academy for 80 city youth aged 14 to 24, on Saturday,October 14. The program will instill participants with the techniques, skills and resources for analyzing community challenges and leveraging solutions forchange.


The classes will continue to be held every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. atExpress Newark for the next 14 weeks. In partnership with the Rutgers NewarkHonors Living and Learning Community (HLLC), its Urban Education Center, andChancellor’s Office, the curriculum for the Mayor’s Leadership Academy will be a course of study in transformational leadership and social justice that aims tobroaden pathways for promising talent.


“The greatest predictor of change and innovation is the intensity of passion in thehearts of those inclined to act. And based on the spark I see in the eyes of these young people as they begin this journey, I know Newark is in for a whole lot ofpositive transformation,” said Mayor Baraka. “Through the ‘Raise Your Voice’Leadership Academy, we see the seeds of our future right here in the present,and we know our city will be in good hands.”


Mayor Baraka is committed to empowering Newark youth and understands that the City’ssuccess rests on them. With a recruitment strategy that seeks equitable engagement of Newark’s promising talent, the Academy will provide Newark’syouth and young adults with resources and transferrable skills to help them become critical thought leaders, decision makers within their careers, positive collaborators within their communities, and local and global change agents.


Newark’s“Raise Your Voice” Leadership Academy is designed to progressively strengthen the scholars’ knowledge and skills for implementing innovation. The program builds from week to week and culminates in the students’ presentation of their project to the mentoring professionals, with a curriculum that includes:

·      Week 1:  Introduction and Team Building (Kaleena Berryman)

·      Week 2: Cycles ofSocialization & Understanding (Dean Marta Esquilin)

·      Week 3: History,Layout and Diversity in Newark (Mayor Ras J. Baraka & Junius Williams)

·      Week 4:  Presentations from City of Newark DepartmentDirectors

·      Week 5:  Participant Identification of Problem toAddress (Department Directors & Peer Educators)

·      Week 6:  Developing Storytelling Ability (Dr. Jhanae Wingfield & Idris Murray)

·      Week 7: CommunityPartner Organizations Present Missions and Insight

·      Week 8:  Collecting Data & Using EmpiricalEvidence (Dr. Lauren Wells)

·      Week 9:  Community Partners Think Tank

·      Week 10: Stages ofProject Planning (Tracy Colunga)

·      Weeks 11 & 12:  Project Development

·      Week 13 & 14:Project Presentations

·      Week 15:Presentation of Project Management Certifications


“Each participant in this program brings their lived experience as a resident of Newark, andtheir insight on where there’s room for improvement,” said Newark Works and SummerYouth Employment Program Director Tyreek Rolon. “This kind of input is valuable as the foundation for change which thengets planned out, side by side with city department heads, nonprofits and community leaders. The Mayor’s Raise Your Voice Leadership Academy trulyempowers kids with the tools and step-by-step techniques for bringing good ideas into being.”


“From just one day at the Academy, I saw how much I can learn, and how much fun it is.This experience is so much more than an accomplishment to put on my college applications.I think it will be life-changing for me, and I hope what I contribute here willbe life-changing for others,” said Akela Haynes, age 17.


The first participants enrolled in the youth “Raise Your Voice” Leadership Academy wereselected for their level of interest in community engagement. The program is slated to be an ongoing city resource for harnessing talent and passion forsocial justice and forward thinking collaborative solutions. It is projected to become a national model for progress in cities and communities throughout theU.S.


For photos, click here.