Students and their Partners from the local non-profit, Student/Partner Alliance (S/PA), gathered at the Community FoodBank of NJ in Hillside on Saturday, October 27th, to pack Thanksgiving food boxes for less fortunate neighbors.  Family members of the students, school administrators and S/PA Board members helped out too, putting everything except the turkey into boxes that the FoodBank will distribute to Soup Kitchens, Pantries, Churches, and Schools in time for low-income families to enjoy Thanksgiving. The group also prepared boxes that will go to Senior Centers in East Orange, Irvington, Plainfield and other towns.

This annual event not only helps needy NJ families, but also provides the students and their sponsors (partners) some time together – to get to know each other better – and often to meet family members on both sides!  Summit resident Paul Morton remarked, “I met my partnered student for the first time a few weeks ago and we hit it off right away.  It was great to be able to have my son get to meet Steven as well. We thought that we were “giving back”, but in reality we are getting back, and learning so much from our participation in S/PA,” remarked Paul.

The mission of the Student/Partner Alliance (S/PA) is to support underserved inner-city high school students residing in Essex, Hudson and Union counties with local private school tuition assistance and a big brother/big sister-type mentoring relationship. The S/PA program, with its unique blend of quality education and mentoring oversight, has proven to be highly successful. Since it’s founding in 1993, more than 98% of students have graduated from high school and more than 95% have gone onto college (this compares to an approximate 65% graduation rate from the same area’s public schools). In June of this year, all 62 seniors in the S/PA program graduated and all are continuing on to some form of higher education or the military. 

2013 is a very special year for Student/Partner Alliance, as it is their 20th Anniversary year.  Thanks to many loyal and generous individual donors who live in Summit, Millburn, Short Hills and the surrounding areas, S/PA has assisted over 1,500 students and is currently supporting over 150 students.