PATERSON, NJ  – A $2 million, five year, federal grant awarded to the Paterson Education Fund (PEF) will benefit students at two Paterson public schools, officials announced Thursday at Senator Frank R. Lautenberg School.

The funding, provided through the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program, will be used primarily to provide academic support services, youth recreation activities, and counseling services for students both at the Lautenberg School and at Public Schools No. 15. 

“The announcement we are making today is the embodiment of the phrase, ‘It takes a village,’” said Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer. “People from all over our village, the City of Paterson, have come together to secure this federal funding and implement programs to help our students academically succeed during these challenging times of the pandemic. This funding provides resources for the dynamic educators and organizations involved to do all they can for our students. I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped secure this funding, and all who will see to its good use.” 

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Shafer’s comments were backed up by no only the presence of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9) and representatives of the Paterson Education Fund, the Paterson Alliance, the New Destiny Family Success Center, and St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation, but also by the fact that those same non-profits will join together to help implement the grant funded initiatives. 

“As a former educator, I know well that our education system is the cornerstone of society. Wherever we go as a community, as a state, as a country, and as a civilization depends on our commitment to education,” said Rep. Pascrell. “As this virus has upended our communities, protecting an equal playing field for our students is essential. The resources provided by this federal investment will change countless lives and be the start of something of special in Paterson school hallways. There’s nothing more important than that.” 

PEF Executive Director Rosie Grant said that the effort to secure the funding has been collaborative from the start and that all the partners worked together for the past year to build a sustainability plan. “It’s wonderful that this first fruit of our labor will benefit the children and families of Senator Frank Lautenberg and School 15!”

“Everyone wins when we put children at the center,” she added. 

The grant funding will be used to provide students at the two schools with academic supports such as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) enrichment, an afterschool program that will run Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a summer program that will run for approximately four weeks in July.  

“This shows the strength of the Paterson Alliance, with support from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation. We bring together partners – in this case the Paterson Education Fund, New Destiny Family Success Center, St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation and Paterson Public Schools – to share resources and wisdom. With our collaboration, we achieve greater results than we could individually,” said Paterson Alliance Executive Director Inge Spungen.  

The funding will also help provide for recreational clubs in sports, performing arts, and student government. Behavioral health counseling services for students and a hot dinner program will also be provided with the help of this grant. When pandemic conditions have subsided, the grant will also fund field trips for students.  

“This is a huge win for the students and youth of Senator Frank Lautenberg School! Students’ academic outcomes, social and emotional needs will be positively impacted by the resources provided through the 21st Century Learning Program. This was a significant team effort resulting in a collective benefit to all!” said New Destiny Family Success Centers, Inc. Executive Director Carolyn McCombs. 

As part of its mission, the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math. It also offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children. 

“Partnership is embedded in our mission statement. As the lead community agency at Paterson School No. 15, St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation is pleased to be partnering with the Paterson Education Fund, Paterson Alliance, and New Destiny Family Success Center to ensure that vital academic enrichment opportunities continue to be made available to our students. Not one of us can do this work alone. It is gratifying to know that there are organizations willing to come together in common cause to support the academic, social-emotional, and self-enrichment needs of our children,” said St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation Executive Director Richard C. Williams.  


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