What is the Newark Opportunity Youth Network?

We are a public-private partnership dedicated to helping Newark thrive by reconnecting thousands of young people who are not in school and not working. Key to our approach is that we truly are a network. Our committed partners understand that bringing back our youth is a bigger job than any one person or organization can accomplish. Everything we do stems from a deep belief that reconnecting young people to a stake in the community is an investment Newark, and the nation, can’t afford not to make.

What are the goals of NOYN?

We want a Newark where it’s no big deal to finish school, get a good job, and support a family. NOYN aims to break a culture of expecting anything less than that.

To realize these goals, we’ve developed a comprehensive strategy, recognizing that every young man or woman NOYN encounters has his or her own reasons for disconnecting. Our strategy involves:

  • A Re-Engagement Center that serves as a hub for reconnecting youth
  • Expanding and better coordinating alternative education options
  • Bringing together community leaders to improve youth-related policy
  • Promoting data-sharing to coordinate services and promote accountability
  • Collecting feedback from youth on their needs to improve every aspect of OYN’s operations

Who is leading this initiative?

OYN is led by a talented team of leaders committed to serving hard to serve young people. See here

Who are the members of NOYN?

They come from local government, the business world, community-based organizations, and educational institutions. NOYN is fortunate to have supporters from Newark’s distinctive neighborhoods to corporate headquarters:

Why is re-engaging young people important?

Disconnected youth are more likely to gravitate toward crime, become parents prematurely, and face mental and physical health challenges. Each disconnected youth costs taxpayers $50,000 a year, research finds — in health care and criminal justice or corrections expenses, lost earnings and tax revenue, and social services payments. That adds up to almost $1 million for each over the cost of his or her lifetime.

And, it goes beyond statistics. Youths who can reconnect take responsibility for their lives, get good jobs, and support their families. There are too many disconnected youth — and their cost to society is too high to just give up on them. No community can prosper with so many of its members on the outside looking in.

How many disconnected youth are there in Newark?

Even as graduation rates rise, there are approximately 7,000 disengaged and out-of-school youth in Newark.

How does NOYN reconnect these young people?

For all disconnected youth, the NOYN experience starts at a Re-Engagement Center opened in 2016 to help place returning out-of-school youth. NOYN staff identify everyone’s experience and the challenges they face, then conduct an individual assessment that results in a customized academic plan and placement into education and job-training settings offering the best chance for success.

Participating in the Newark Opportunity Youth Network can mean training for a job at YouthBuild Newark or the Newark Street Academy. Some young people are giving education a second chance at the LEAD Charter School, designed specifically for disconnect youth. Others receive high-school equivalency instruction in their own neighborhood at La Casa De Don Pedro, New Community Corporation, or another of four community-based organizations around the city.

Where are the programs located?

NOYN members can be found in every ward of Newark, helping to make sure reconnecting youth can access education and training in their own neighborhoods.

What has OYN achieved so far?

Since NOYN's beginnings in 2016, we’ve engaged in a community-driven strategy that streamlines re-engagement, assessment, academic and non-academic services, and intervention.

Spurred by an initial investment of $2.5 million by the Foundation for Newark’s Future, through a donation from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Newark’s strategy to support our opportunity youth has the potential to be the most comprehensive in the country.

The breadth of its portfolio distinguishes Newark’s approach. Options include a district alternative high school, four community-based organization programs offering credit-bearing courses, Rutgers University-Newark as a research partner, New Jersey’s first alternative charter high school, and a new citywide initiative called the Mayor’s Street Academy, created to re-engage disconnected youth through social-emotional learning, civic proficiency, community outreach, and volunteerism.

  • Newark OYN programs have conducted intake and assessment for 1,843 youth
  • Newark OYN schools and programs served a total of 371 youth in 2017–18
  • 154 students have graduated from Newark OYN programs
  • Among 2016–17 graduates, 45 students matriculated to post-secondary education or gained employment
  • Created over 250 new or redesigned high-quality educational seats for disconnected youth
  • Reestablished the Re-Engagement Center using proven youth development strategies to direct disconnected youth to high-quality educational seats
  • Turned around UPLIFT Academy, now a model for serving disconnected youth in Newark Public Schools
  • Provided a mission-driven structure facilitating and supporting cross-network collaboration of partners to implement the Newark OYN model and share learning
  • Raised expectations for disconnected youth from completing high school to earning a post-secondary credential

See more from our Public Impact Report

How do I enroll myself or someone I know up for a program?

Click here for more information about enrolling in our programs.

How do I become a volunteer or mentor?

Click here for more information on ways you can get involved with the Newark Opportunity Youth Network.