NEWARK, NJ — Newark Opportunity Youth Network has partnered with Schools That Can, Newark Alliance and Newark Youth One Stop to initiate the city’s first collective approach to creating a school-to-workforce pipeline for youth.

 The Newark Youth Workforce Collaborative brings together organizations aimed to connect leaders in education and workforce development, as well as local employment partners, to help young people in the city breaking into the job market.

“By creating a collaborative city-wide strategy, organizations serving both opportunity youth and in-school youth can pool their resources to create more pathways toward success for young people across the city,”  Robert Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Newark Opportunity Youth Network said.

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As part of the network's focus to enhance post-secondary pathways and the organization’s work with partners, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have recently heightened its role in the community.

The organization said that through data sharing systems, members of this new collaborative will monitor the effectiveness of their collective efforts to increase the percentage of youth with a high school diploma, increase the percentage of young people with early workforce experience and improve re-engagement with young people disconnected from school or steady employment.

The center of this collaborative is a cluster of program partners, which includes direct service agencies, who develop action plans to achieve the intended goals and priorities of this new community resource. The organization's advisory committee consists of cross-sector system leaders who “help steward and champion the overall vision for the effort.”

As part of the collaborative, the Newark Opportunity Youth Network will also turnkey funding opportunities, capacity building and technical assistance to members of the group.

The first capacity building series, led by national partner Jobs For the Future, is aimed to help organizations build pathways toward demand-driven training to lead to skilled employment and advancement potential for opportunity youth in Newark.

La Casa de Don Pedro and Urban League of Essex County are also among one of the nine founding community-based organizations in the Collaborative.

Wendy Melendez, Program Division Director at La Casa de Don Pedro, said community collaboration is one of the Newark area’s strengths.

“I think it’s important that we work together,” Melendez said. “I think it’s been very effective being a partner with NOYN, and because of that, we’ve developed our own strengths as an organization. I think our programs are more effective now.”

“That’s the beauty of all this. We get so caught up working in our own little world that we don’t take the time to identify the strengths and the weaknesses of other organizations. I think through this partnership, we’re able to develop that and see how we can help each other,” Melendez added.

Patricia Sermon, Chief Operations Officer at the Urban League of Essex County noted that she anticipates the Collaborative to place members of the community on beneficial paths to the workplace.

“I’m hoping that through this stronger collaboration, that we’re constantly sharing the client and making sure we’re all looking at a person as an individual, helping them along their career path,” Sermon said.

NOYN is currently accepting applications from organizations interested in joining the Collaborative. For more information, visit



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