On Saturday, June 15, NJCDC and Paterson Public Schools held the Fifth Annual Senior Sendoff at The Brownstone. The event celebrated the 360 high school seniors from Paterson Public Schools who will be attending four-year colleges and universities this fall, and awarded them with more than $20,000 in scholarships.

In a city where only 10% of adult residents have a college degree, going to a four-year college is especially noteworthy. In addition, many of these youth will be the first members of their families to attend college. Students will be attending colleges and universities including the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, William Paterson University, Montclair State University, Berkeley College, and Penn State.

At the Senior Sendoff, guests enjoyed congratulatory remarks by NJCDC CEO Bob Guarasci and Eileen F. Shafer, Superintendent of Paterson Public Schools. In addition, Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi, a scholar and thought leader on the intersecting issues of race, religion and immigration in the United States, offered the students relevant advice about how to succeed in college.

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Funding for the Fifth Annual Senior Sendoff was raised by NJCDC through its generous network of friends and supporters. Our lead corporate sponsor was Valley National Bank, and other corporate donors included ADP, Dewberry, Railroad Construction, Accurate Box, Langan, Pike Construction, and Reliable Benefits. This year's individual donors included Charles Florio (in memory of his grandfather, Anthony Iafelice), Stewart Stimson and Yunior Caballero, Deborah De Santis, Felisa Van Liew, Glenn Scotland, Idida Rodriguez, and Bob Guarasci, as well as board members Bob Daleo, Etta Denk, Victor Herlinsky, and Martin Vergara.

We are also thankful for the support of our community partners, such as Berkeley College, College Achieve, CUMAC, iLearn, the Paterson Firefighters Association, and the Paterson Parking Authority, and elected officials, including Senator Nellie Pou, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, former Mayors Pat Kramer and Jane Williams Warren, Sheriff Richard Berdnik, City Council President Maritza Davila, and Freeholders John Bartlett, Assad Akhter, Terry Duffy, and Pat Lepore.

NJCDC CEO Bob Guarasci said, "We're grateful for our partnership with the Paterson Public School District and Superintendent Eileen Shafer, as well as all of the wonderful donors who made today possible. We're thrilled we were able to honor these extraordinary students, and we can't wait to see what they do next!"