NEWARK, NJ - The North Jersey Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., hosted its biannual Skills Olympics - "Power Up With 21st Century Skills", on Saturday at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Campus Center, with keynote speaker, Kevin Powell, one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary and hip-hop voices in America today.

"Power Up With 21st Century Skills", was a day comprised of phenomenal speakers, facilitators and workshops on technology, entrepreneurship, art, science and expressive communication. 

Kevin Powell captivated the audience by relating to all attendees individually.  He spoke about his life, from his childhood hardships to being the first in his family to attend a university (Rutgers University) where he became a student leader. He shared stories of his survival and his success. Mr. Powell interacted with the children, referencing new and old-school hip-hop, stressing how reading is essential and the importance of education and seeking opportunities. 

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Shell Williams, Education Chair for the North Jersey chapter, orchestrated a stellar program beginning with welcome and opening remarks by Levelle Burr-Alexander, Ph.D, NJIT Senior Director for Curriculum and Program Development for Pre-college programs, and North Jersey chapter members Monique Pryor, Esq and Karma Warren, MD.  

Following Kevin Powell’s presentation and book signing (The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood), the program continued with age-specific workshops. Justin Gerrard (Jack & Jill of America, Inc. graduate), creator of the dating app BAE, conducted a workshop on application creation and guided the teenagers in brainstorming and strategizing their own app ideas. Dale Alexander led a college preparation seminar. There were sessions on science conducted by Rockets Kenitra Washington, comic book formation by Tony Poprilo, artistic movement by Jacquelyn Graham, and self-expression in-print, in-person and online, by Carla Brothers, David Alicea and Tamara Fleming.  Parents attended discussions on organization management and prioritizing led by Arrelle Anderson and meaningful programming by North Jersey chapter members Alison Scott-William and Rochelle Herring. 

"It was an amazing day with powerful speakers and innovative leaders aiding in preparing the children to "Power Up With 21st Century Skills", said Shell Williams.  The North Jersey chapter created and launched Skills Olympics in 1991.


Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is an organization founded in 1938 with the mission of stimulating the growth and development of children through educational, cultural, civic, recreational, health and social programs inspired by mothers. Through its more than 230 chapters organized in seven regions across the United States, the organization consists of more than 30,000 family members which includes, mother members, fathers and children ages two through 19. Jack and Jill Chapters also support non-profit organizations through its philanthropic arm, the Jack and Jill of America Foundation, among the first foundations established by African-American families in the United States. Since its founding in 1968, the Foundation has granted millions of dollars to worthy causes supporting children and families.

To learn more about Jack and Jill of America, Inc., please visit