March 26, 2024


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Mayor Ras J. Baraka, in partnership with Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León, officially opened the Re-engagement Center to reconnect youth with education and career paths today, at 375 McCarter Highway within the Newark One Stop Career Center.


Director of NewarkWORKS/SYEP Tyreek Rolon, Director of the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma RecoveryKyleesha Wingfield-Hill, and Stephan Young, a Re-engagement Center youth participant, also spoke at the opening.


“Many of our students are unable to complete their high school classes and gain their diplomas for a variety of reasons,” Mayor Baraka said. “We need to provide these young men and women with the tools and opportunity they need to achieve personal success and reach their professional goals. The Re-engagement Center will be the bridge that eliminates this gap, to enrich and strengthen lives. Together, we will empower our youth to unlock their full potential and set them on a path towards a promising future.”


Prior to the 2020 pandemic, Newark’s youth disconnection hovered around 4,000 young people (2018Public Impact Report). COVID-19 resulted in trends that indicate a much larger number that is expected to be verified by the Newark Opportunity Youth Network’s report next month that focuses specifically on understanding the scope of the challenge in the city.


This new hub will enable youth aged 13-24 to reconnect with programs leading to a high school diploma or an equivalent credential and move them toward employment. Students 21 or over who have aged out of city schools will be referred to GED and high school equivalency program options.


“The Re-Engagement Center is a symbol of our commitment to empower youth with education and career pathways. The Mayor and I stand committed to unlocking the boundless potential of every young person, providing them with the tools they need to navigate their path towards personal success and professional fulfillment,” Superintendent León said. “Weare embarking on a journey of transformation, empowering our youth to rewrite their stories and shape their future.”


The Re-engagement Center will provide participants with school placement advising and services; and access to academic enrichment, social support, and modified instructional programming. It will also connect them to a range of wrap-around support services to promote success in school and beyond.


The center’s mission is to create diploma pathways with advanced support to empower the community of students and their families to reap positive impacts pre- and post-graduation. The programs are designed to pro-actively minimize the negative effects that come hand in hand with not completing high school.


“Newark’s Re-engagement Center is built to empower our youth to reimagine their future,” said Director Rolon. “In our city, we create and run programs from an energy of freedom – and that same energy infuses our young participants with a refreshed spirit to dream again with no limitations, and to realize those dreams with unwavering belief in themselves and our community.”


The center is geared to assess and address quality-of-life barriers that hinder student progress. It will create customized and sustainable success plans to support graduation and access to higher education. With its focus concentrated in College Entry, Trades, Leadership Development, Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, and Life Skill/Mentoring, the program reinforces positive life path alternatives that lead to satisfying careers.


“Our young people are not the problem; they are the solution. They are the architects of our future, the builders of tomorrow’s dreams. Yet, too often, they are cast aside by a system that fails to see their potential, a system that measures success by standardized tests rather than by the content of their character,” said Director Wingfield-Hill. “Today, we reject that narrow vision. Today, we declare that every young person, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserves a chance to thrive. That is why this center is not just a building; it is a promise – a promise to reengage, to empower, and to uplift.”


Speaking from the podium, Mr. Young recalled that his incarceration made clear what was most important in his life: his young son, who was also present at the press conference. “I got out with no home, no job – no stability as a foundation fora new way of living. But miraculously, I was introduced to Tyreek Rolon, who took me under his wing at the Re-engagement Center. I found myself embraced by a whole team of experts to support me, and within weeks, I had two part-time jobs and am enrolled to start at Rutgers University in the Fall. My son is here today and I’m proud to show him that we all have the power to reach out to each other for help and to find our way through our troubles into a brighter future.”


Comprehensive Youth and Parent Services will include:


  • Social, emotional, trauma healing and ACE healthy living (drug and alcohol substance abuse prevention) support; personal and     character development; domestic violence prevention; social services     assessment and referrals for housing, clothing, and food services; family     and child services; and intensive case management.
  • Educational Opportunities with Newark Public Schools and Out of District Access, and alternate route planning and coordination.
  • Community and Advocacy Resources for getting into schools and training for placement into trades, apprenticeships, entry level employment, college, and career progression into public service, civil service, non-profit and public sector employment.
  • Community partner referrals.
  • Professional Development, Soft Skills, and Tech Training, including digital footprint instruction, and best/safe online practices.


For photos of the event, click here.