NJ Statewide Collective Impact VISTA Project

Directed by the Executive Director of NJ Campus Compact and the President of the Bonner Foundation in collaboration with the NJ Office of the Attorney General.

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About New Jersey Campus Compact Collective Impact VISTA Project

The New Jersey Campus Compact Collective Impact VISTA Project is a cohort of AmeriCorps VISTA members supporting the anti-poverty work of fourteen large-scale, cross-sector partnerships focused on increasing both educational and economic opportunity, improving access to care, and reducing crime and substance abuse. These efforts are focused in the cities of Asbury Park, Jersey City, Orange, New Brunswick, Trenton and Newark, and Atlantic, Burlington, Cumberland and Passaic Counties. Initiatives range from assisting the collaboratives with city-wide college access and success targets to restructuring how social services are delivered to neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence and substance misuse, as well as encouraging healthier youth nutritional habits. Collaboratives in this VISTA project operate on a city-wide level with local and state government agencies, neighboring higher education institutions, nonprofits and community based organizations.

Sponsored by the Corporation for National Community Service and managed by New Jersey Campus Compact, successful VISTA candidates will focus on 1 of the 14 projects below. Applications for the 2017-18 cohort can be found on my.americorps.gov as well as in the descriptions below. More information can be found on our Facebook and Twitter. Questions can be directed to our current VISTA Leaders, Akelah Moore (akelah@bonner.org) or Justin Lesko (justin@bonner.org), or via the Bonner Foundation office (609) 924-6663.

Individual VISTA Project Summaries

VISTA Leader

VISTA Leader for NJCC Statewide Collective Impact Project

Location: The Corella & Bertram Bonner Foundation

Organization Website: http://www.bonner.org/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/WcW6oM

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2rvUrMK


Working out of The Bonner Foundation’s office in Princeton, New Jersey Campus Compact’s VISTA Leader serves as the first line of support for the VISTA cohort. Importantly, the VISTA Leader will be an information conduit connecting VISTAs, Site Supervisors, Program Managers, and NJ Campus Compact Staff as needed. In a supportive role, the VISTA Leader will be an integral team member who provides the viewpoint of a VISTA member to the NJCC VISTA staff. The VISTA Leaders’ input will vitally inform how the NJCC VISTA staff approach the development of VISTA member training, enrichment, and project management.

Burlington County Youth Prevention Policy Board

Burlington County Youth Prevention Policy Board (BCYPPB)

Location: Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office

Organization Website: http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/262/Prosecutor

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/1Fv7VX

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qw8ByX


BCYPPB, as one of several Office of the Attorney General Youth Planning Boards, shares the goal of bringing together government agencies, nonprofits, and residents to promote and provide positive development for disadvantaged youth and their families. Together, these community partners hope to increase mentorship that will decrease youth violence and improve school attendance. According to the NJ State Police Uniform Crime Report released in 2015, violent crime in Burlington County increased by 6% in 2013 over the previous year with 716 violent crime cases in 2013, up from 678 cases. The county has the seventh highest juvenile arrest record in New Jersey, 15 %. The poverty rate in Burlington County has gradually increased, going from only 4.6 % in 2005 and rising to 6.3 % in 2012. Since crime and poverty have been gradually increasing in Burlington County, it is important for collaborations between nonprofits, universities and county officials to develop strategies to alleviate this. The VISTA’s efforts will be utilized to identify and analyze trends to address and reduce juvenile delinquency. Programming is then developed to support low performing schools, local nonprofits and law enforcement agencies to improve the state of the community.

Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition

Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition (CCPYDC)

Location: Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office

Organization Website: http://njccpo.org/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/w1KC2n

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qxF48z


CCPYDC as an one of several Office of the Attorney General Youth Planning Board, shares the the goal of bringing together government agencies, nonprofits, and residents to promote and provide positive youth development for disadvantaged youth and their families. Cumberland County ranks near the bottom in the state for almost all poverty measures and subsequent indicators. 19.5 %, or about 30,000, Cumberland County residents lived in poverty in 2013, 10,907 of whom were children. The county also had the third highest juvenile arrest rate in NJ in 2013 at 23%. The CCPYDC focuses on increasing school attendance, in addition to reducing youth crime rates by providing better leverage of existing resources to stabilize families and reduce risk factors impacting community safety. These efforts include increasing protective factors (FCIU services, CIACC services, affordable housing, employment for youth/families) and decreasing risk factors (childhood exposure to trauma and violence, concentrated poverty, substance abuse and behavioral health issues, physical and mental health needs, insufficient time with caregivers).  To maximize the number of youth influenced by the board, the VISTA will increase the community’s awareness and utilization of services offered by CCPYDC partners; promote the implementation of evidence-based youth development and youth-informed programming, while also identifying and increasing awareness of safe, secure employment that will increase the economic opportunity of youth and families in Cumberland County.

Greater Asbury Park Community Development Initiative

Greater Asbury Park Community Development Initiative (GAPCDI)

Location: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office

Organization Website: https://mcponj.org/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/oiv8aT

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qB99lJ


GAPCDI, as one of several Office of the Attorney General Youth Planning Board, shares the goal of bringing together government agencies, nonprofits, and residents to promote and provide positive youth development for disadvantaged youth. Through this partnership, originally Asbury Park Community Development Initiative, GAPCDI has expanded to deliver training to low performing schools not just in Asbury but also in the neighboring city of Neptune. 49.26% of students graduate from high school in Asbury Park and about 25% of all juvenile arrests in Monmouth County occurred in Asbury Park and Neptune. 34.2% of Asbury Park residents live at or below the poverty line and the city’s median income is almost $40,000 less than that for the entirety of NJ. This VISTA will develop program-enhancing evaluations and communication plans to support nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties. By expanding employment opportunities and providing tutoring and mentoring to youth, it is believed that violence will decrease and school attendance will improve. GAPCDI utilizes a similar model established by the White House Community Solutions Final Report’s case study of Operation Safe Community to recruit community volunteers to expand citywide education and mentoring efforts.

Jersey City Mentoring Collaborative

Jersey City Mentoring Collaborative (JCMC)

Location: New Jersey City University Office of University Advancement

Organization Website: http://www.njcu.edu/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/JLLajO

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2rvTxPE


JCMC was created in an effort to establish assessments and focus groups to develop effective community outreach programs in Jersey City. Nearly 1 in 5 Jersey City residents live in poverty, including 24% of children under the age of 18 and 27% of youth aged 16-24. With high unemployment and gang activity in youth ages 16-24 in Jersey City, the collaborative’s goal is to develop volunteer recruitment plans and a training curriculum to equip volunteers to serve youth in the community. The VISTA serving at JCMC will research volunteer management programs and community assessments to determine the needs of the community and the effectiveness of implemented programing, including a pilot mentoring program pairing high school sophomores and NJCU students. JCMC’s goal is to increase the high school graduation rates through effective tutoring and mentoring and serve 1,000 students in 3 years.

Join Together Atlantic County

Join Together Atlantic County (JTAC)

Location: Stockton University Office of Service Learning

Organization Website: http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page.cfm?siteID=113&pageID=1

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/Ls4gh3

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2rjcEzT


JTAC is a county-wide, municipal-level task force aimed at reducing, preventing and delaying substance abuse among youth in Atlantic County. In 2014, Atlantic County alone saw nearly 4,000 people seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. These rates of abuse and use disproportionately impacts young adults — 22% of the admitted users of drugs and alcohol abuse into treatment were under 24 years old. The organization supplies health education programming so that, with proper education, there will be a decrease in the amount of disadvantaged students grades 9-12, partaking in substance misuse. In conjunction with Stockton University the VISTA will recruit college students to participate in campaigns, summits and workshops to raise awareness about drug and alcohol abuse in youth of Atlantic City. In addition, due to the commitment of the previous VISTA, the incoming VISTA member will be assisting in the implementation of the first Substance Free Housing program on the Stockton University Campus. Through the support of NJCC VISTA’s and community partners, JTAC aims to have similar success as the Coalition for Teens model.

Live Healthy Trenton

Live Healthy Trenton

Location: Trenton YMCA

Organization Website: http://trentonymca.org/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/Yu116h

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2rjnTrY


Formerly known as the Trenton Healthy Food & Fitness Network (THFFN), Live Healthy Trenton is an organization dedicated to providing the residents of New Jersey’s capital city with community-led healthy food options. Nearly 1 in 2 Trenton children in every age category (3-18) is overweight or obese and more than 1 in 4 children in every age category is obese. Founded in 2012, THFFN was established by the NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids-Trenton to collaborate and coordinate programming among residents and practitioners. Live Healthy Trenton’s working groups have created a city-wide Wellness Policy, established the Greenwood Farmers Market, took over the Healthy Corner Stores Initiative, began funding research for healthy alternatives,as well as expanded and deepened alliances with the Trenton city government and the Trenton Health Team. As a collective impact project, THFFN has expanded into what is now Live Healthy Trenton. The LHT VISTA assignment is designed to build the organizational capacity of LHT’s initiatives and strengthen its partnerships to increase LHT’s imoact on the health of the Trenton Community.

Newark City of Learning Collaborative

Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC)

Location: Rutgers-Newark Cornwall Center

Organization Website: http://www.nclc2025.org/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/FshGHV

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qw5EOP


NCLC aims to promote quality, equitable access and success to all students living in the city of Newark, especially underrepresented groups, such as African American and Latino males and adult learners, and those with some college education but no degree. 70.8% of Newark residents graduated from high school compared to 88.1% statewide and only 12.7% of residents in New Jersey’s most populous city have a bachelor’s degree, about a third of the statewide average. With a goal of increasing the percentage of residents with postsecondary degrees, certificates, and quality credentials from the current 17% to 25% by 2025, NCLC volunteers provide tutoring and mentor economically disadvantaged students in grades 9-12. The NCLC VISTA will develop volunteer management systems to maximize the impact of tutors and mentors, as well as provide research to evaluate and enhance the program.

Newark Community Schools

Newark Community Schools (NCS)

Location: Newark City Hall, Office of the Mayor

Organization Website: https://www.newarknj.gov/city-mayor

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/sCqf12

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qWEouq


Stemming from some of the Newark Youth Policy Board (a previous NJCC VISTA project) research of policies that would improve youth programming, the City of Newark and Newark Public Schools are partnering to launch the Newark Community School Initiative to give Newark families the resources and support services they need to achieve educational and career success. Between 2009-13, roughly 29.1% of residents lived below the poverty line, compared to 10.4% statewide. This is much higher than the statewide child poverty rate of 15%. 70.8% of Newark residents graduated from high school (88.1% in NJ) and only 12.7% of residents have a Bachelor’s Degree, about one-third the statewide figure (35.8%). The Foundation for Newark’s Future has pledged up to $10 million towards this critical effort. NCS will be the public policy and operational model for future Community Schools operating in Newark and beyond. Programming will be piloted this fall in the South Wards public schools. Supporting this approach to programs are evidence-based, university-assisted community school models developed by the University of Pennsylvania, Florida International University, and Indiana University-Purdue. Tasked with creating a Fall community needs assessment, assisting in the creation of a National Advisory Board, and conducting community-based research and development, among other ongoing tasks, the VISTA will be an integral part of NCS’ launch.

Orange Community Schools

Orange Community Schools (NCS)

Location: Montclair State University Center for Community Engagement

Organization Website: https://www.montclair.edu/center-for-community-engagement/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/BlbxON

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qxDcN3


Developed in 2010, out of deep consultation with educators and families, OCS aims to break the cycle of poverty in the City of Orange by transforming local schools into full-service community centers that help students and their families succeed. Only 19.9% of Orange residents have a bachelor’s degree and 20.7% of the population do not have a high school degree. This does not bode well for health as research shows that those with less education are likely to live shorter lives, experience worse health outcomes and are less likely to practice health-promoting behaviors such as refraining from smoking and getting regular checkups and screenings. OCS operates at Rosa Parks Elementary and Oakwood Avenue Middle School, it is led by Montclair State University with funding from the US Dept. of Education. OCS collaborates and pools the resources and expertise of educators, faculty, and volunteers from Drew University, the Public School District, nonprofits, and residents. The OCS VISTA assignment stems from the community needs assessment conducted in 2013. The VISTA will research and develop: volunteer recruitment and management systems; communication plans: and program enhancements and evaluations.

Rutgers 0-21 Cradle to College Initiative

Rutgers 0-21 Cradle to College Initiative (RU0-21)

Location: Rutgers Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Organization Website: http://engage.rutgers.edu/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/98235N

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2q0C7cw


RU 0-21 supports community and school-based efforts to further improve New Brunswick students’ achievement. Recruited volunteers from Rutgers tutor and mentor economically disadvantaged students in grades K-12 living in the impoverished areas of New Brunswick, where 88% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and 34.9% of residents live at or below the poverty line. To combat New Brunswick’s graduation rate of 60.7% in 2013-14, one of the worst in the state that year, the VISTA will expand on the Collaborative’s programming to provide 300 high school students with ongoing college-readiness mentoring. This VISTA member will accomplish this goal by researching and developing systems to recruit and distribute volunteers, identifying grant opportunities and researching and developing trainings. The RU-021 VISTA assignment is an extension of the Rutgers Future Scholars Program.

School Culture and Climate Initiative

School Culture and Climate Initiative

Location: United Way of Northern New Jersey

Organization Website: http://www.unitedwaynnj.org/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/GanRv4

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2rvXtQt


In 2011, The United Way of Northern New Jersey (UWNNJ) and the Center for Human and Social Development of the College of Saint Elizabeth (Center) partnered to create a model for school, community, health systems, and higher education collaboration to assess and support the needs of K-12 school communities to ensure students are set to thrive academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. The partnership became known as the School Culture and Climate Initiative. This partnership is focused on impacting the system at multiple levels to ensure systemic, sustainable positive change as it relates to the students, teachers and staff, school and district leadership and administration, school climate, district, community, region, and eventually statewide changes. In a national sample of 6th to 12th graders revealed that only 29% to 45% of student respondents said they had developed competency in skills such as empathy, decision-making, and conflict resolution, and less than a third indicated their school was a safe and caring environment. Many efforts at addressing non-cognitive skills development in students are one-off programs that are not part of the fabric of the school. The VISTA will provide research and development efforts; a strong public relations and communications plan; and overall support to help enable SCCI goal for an improved social emotional learning pattern among students. as well in an increase in positive school culture and climate.

Trenton Prevention Policy Board

Trenton Prevention Policy Board (TPPB)

Location: The College of New Jersey Center for Community Engaged Learning & Research

Organization Website: https://celr.tcnj.edu/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/SELTWw

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2qWFmHa


TPPB, as one of several Office of the Attorney General Youth Planning Boards, shares the goal of bringing together government agencies, nonprofits, and residents to promote and provide positive youth development for disadvantaged youth in grades 8-12 and Opportunity Youth aged 16-19 living in the impoverished areas of New Jersey’s capital city. 31 % of children attending school in Trenton live with families in poverty, more than double the average for the state. Just under half of all students drop out of Trenton’s public high schools and the city’s violent crime rate hovers at 13.9%, with most of the crimes committed by the city’s young male population who have dropped out of high school. In order to achieve TPPB’s goals of increasing student attendance and decreasing youth violence, the VISTA’s service includes researching successful anti-poverty programs and best practices, mapping community assets, and fostering increased coordination, management and development of local resources.

United for Prevention in Passaic County

United for Prevention in Passaic County (UPinPC)

Location: William Paterson University

Organization Website: https://www.wpunj.edu/uppc/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/Y1xxqD

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2rvZSKY


Stemming from a community needs assessment conducted in 2014-15, UPinPC is a coalition that works to reduce underage drinking and reduce the misuse of prescription medications in Passaic County. Nationally, almost three-quarters of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school, with 41% having done so by 8th grade. The New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System reported a total of 1,141 Passaic County admissions due to alcohol abuse. Statewide prescription opioid deaths have risen from 328 in 2004 to 461 in 2011, with prescription opioid deaths rising in Passaic County from 9 to 15 in that timeframe. Additionally, 4.3% of Passaic County middle school students abuse prescription drugs annually and 5.7% abuse them in their lifetime. UPinPC’s services focus on economically disadvantaged clients, primarily minors and Opportunity Youth, and the VISTA will increase community awareness of these programs. They will also expand and improve the TIPS training program for William Paterson University students and servers, waiters and bartenders in Passaic County.

West Ward Initiative

West Ward Initiative

Location: Rutgers-Newark, Office of University Community Partnerships

Organization Website: http://oucp.newark.rutgers.edu/

Idealist ad: https://goo.gl/kjypE8

My AmeriCorps application: http://bit.ly/2q0U2Qm


The goal of the Newark West Ward Initiative (WWI)  is to promote effective partnerships designed to improve economic and community development, job creation and workforce development, housing equity, public safety, education and health. Overseen by the Rutgers University Newark’s Office of University-Community Partnerships, the West Ward Initiative embraces and supports revitalization and redevelopment efforts in an area characterized by concentrated poverty and associated socio-economic disadvantages, urban blight, and crime “hot spots”. Nearly half of Newark children — 44 % in 2012 — were living in poverty. Newark is NJ’s most populous city, with an estimated population of 278,427. Between 2009-13, roughly 29.1 % of residents lived below the poverty line, compared to 10.4 % statewide. Rutgers University-Newark, supported by the VISTA serves as a backbone to help entities improve communication and effective engagement among stakeholders. Two major partners for the West Ward Initiative are the Newark Fairmount Promise Neighborhood (NFPN) and the West Ward Community Coalition (WWCC), the VISTA will work closely with these two entities. The VISTA will research and develop: volunteer recruitment and management systems; communication plans; funding resources; and program enhancements and evaluations.