NEWARK, NJ - The Princeton-Blairstown Center raised over $40,000 from its annual Links to Youth golf outing fundraiser that will give 105 middle school students from Newark, Camden, and Trenton the opportunity to develop leadership skills and explore nature free of charge this summer.
The money helps fund Summer Bridge, a one-week leadership program designed to serve up to 600 low-income young people helping them strengthen leadership skills and form positive, supportive relationships with peers.
Located on a 264-acre campus in Blairstown, New Jersey, the center offers a safe haven in the wilderness of the Delaware Water Gap and provide students with the opportunity to grow socially, emotionally, and physically.
Despite the challenge that rock-climbing, hiking, and other team-building exercises presented, Lisalove Atangana, a rising junior at Great Oaks High School was able to grow through the program, said.
“I not only had fun, made connections, and formed a familial bond with my Leadership-in-Training (LIT) group, but underwent a personal transformation as well. I grew as a leader, build self-confidence and better communication skills,” Atangana said during her speech to 70 attendees.
She participates in Leadership-In-Training (LIT), a two-year paid program that combines elements of leadership development, social-emotional learning, job skills training, and service learning. The program is for 10th through 12th-grade students who completed other PBC programs and consists of two work-intensive summers with additional touch points throughout the year.
“The environment is comforting because the kids were respectful and engaging and the summer counselors created a judgment-free zone where I felt safe and comfortable just being myself,” Atangana said.
Over the last two summers, more than half of the Summer Bridge partners were Newark-based organizations. PBC is on track to have nine Newark schools and organizations attend this year's program with more than 330 students according to Communications and Special Events Manager Maren Morsch.
About 22 Newark groups will attend PBC over the course of this year.
Sadie Nash Leadership Project, an organization that promotes leadership and activism among young women in Newark, hosts a bonding retreat during their Summer Institute with 200 students at PBC. Sadie Nash had been partnering with PBC for five years Summer Institute Director Shan Moten said.
“We always wanted to make sure our young people were able to get outside of the city in Summer Institute and there was so much alignment,” Moten said. Students participated in activities that helped build trust and grow beyond their comfort zone. “It just made sense,” Moten said.