New City Kids

The Grants

  • June 2013: $40,000 challenge for general operating support in 2014
  • April 2013: $75,000 to help with the capital project, $75,000 for general operating costs, and $500,000 challenge grant for capital project costs
  • August 2012: $6,000 to support the purchase of a new van
  • October 2011: $150,000 grant for general operating support and $80,000 challenge grant for general operating support in 2012 and 2013
  • December 2009: $150,000 grant for general operating support and $50,000 challenge grant
  • December 2007: $150,000 pledge over two years for general operating support
  • October 2006: $25,000 grant to expand Teen Employment/Leadership Program and assistance with Teen Program Director salary
  • October 2005: $16,000 grant for Teen Employment Program

The Background:

Jersey City is one of the poorest cities in New Jersey. According to the 2010 Census, it had a median household income of $47,000, which is much lower than the state’s median of $71,000. Thirty percent of families make less than $35,000 a year and 19% of families with children under the age of 18 live below the poverty line. Twelve percent of the city is unemployed and 39% of the population over the age of 25 has never attended college.

The current education statistics are equally grave. According to the New Jersey School Performance Report for the 2012-13 school year, five of the six public high schools in Jersey City lag in comparison to schools across the state in regards to academic achievement, college and career readiness, and graduation and post-secondary rates. Compared to New Jersey high schools with similar demographic characteristics, these schools ranked in the 43rd percentile in language arts proficiency and the 40th percentile in mathematics proficiency. Students had an average SAT score of 1192 (out of 2400) and only 67% of the students graduated from high school.

Children growing up in Jersey City must overcome great obstacles in order to succeed.

The Grantee:

The motto of New City Kids is “Loving Kids for Change” and through its love and support, the organization helps children overcome these socioeconomic and academic obstacles. Founded in 1995, New City Kids seeks to provide low-income youth in Jersey City with a loving, trusting community to help positively impact their lives. New City Kids started as a church-based program that occurred once a week and ministered to at-risk, low-income youth ages 5-12. As those children became older and wanted to remain involved with the organization, programs for teenagers were added. Now the organization serves youth ages 5-22 in a variety of arts, education and leadership-training programs.

New City Kids offers a variety of critical programs to these students and parents. The afterschool care program for 1st through 8th graders provides academic support and goal-setting, sexual abuse counseling, community service projects, sports, and performing arts afterschool care program for 1st lessons in musical instruments, dance, acting, and art. The organization works to create an atmosphere where the idea of being “college bound” is normal, and it administers in-house pre- and post-tests to determine the students’ academic progress.

Teens in the Teen Life Internship program tutor and mentor the younger students and are involved in administrative work, conflict mediation, and program implementation. The program seeks to help the teens prepare for later careers and uses the wage-paying, mentor-supported jobs as a delivery system for life transformation. The teens face job performance reviews throughout the year and receive promotions and raises for good work. If they fail to live up to New City Kids’ high standards, teen employees are given warnings and, if necessary, fired. Teens in the program also participate in mandatory life-skills training, career exposure trips, SAT prep and college visits, and they receive college application and financial aid assistance. Additionally, New City Kids holds teen job fairs and trainings each year for all interested Jersey City teens which teach teens about professionalism and job skills and help them prepare for interviews.

New City Kids also provides youth group services that promote teen character development, summer day camp, free sailing lessons during the summer through City Sail, and parent support group meetings and retreats.

The Impact:

When the William E. Simon Foundation first supported New City Kids in 2005, the organization had an afterschool program with 25 children, performing arts group with 10-15 teens, a summer day camp that averaged 56 participants, mission trips for 15 teenagers, and 14 teens involved in the teen employment program. By 2013, 120 children benefited from the afterschool program (now at two sites), 51 teens were actively involved in the teen employment program, an average of 83 youth attended the weekly youth group services, 90 students attended the summer day camp, and 28 teens participated in City Sail. In addition, New City Kids added support groups meetings throughout the year for parents, including a parent retreat in New York.

Academically, the impact of this organization is unmatched in the area. In 2013, all of the 14 seniors graduated from high school and enrolled in college. They were awarded a collective $197, 500 in scholarships and grants towards their first year of college and eight of them did not incur any debt in the 2013-14 academic year. Seventeen Teen Life interns went on the annual college tour of 15 campuses. Eleven of the tours were hosted by New City Kids alumni.

New City Kids staff closely monitors the participation of students and their results. They complete an extensive review process at the conclusion of each program cycle to improve and change the programs as needed. The organization is now working to expand its facilities in order to increase the number of youth it serves and invest more deeply in the growth and development of its staff members. Groups nationwide have visited New City Kids to learn about its successful approach to leadership development in children and teens. Six organizations have since replicated the model.

New City Kids is a landmark in the Jersey City community that has enabled thousands of students to overcome unimaginable obstacles.