Empowering Jersey City Youth
The New City Kids organization provides at-risk youth with outstanding performing arts training, academic support, college prep, leadership development, life and job skills training, and mentorship.
With locations in New Jersey and Michigan, New City Kids serves over 300 children in 1st through 12th grade in Jersey City through the After School Center and the Teen Life Internship programs. The After School Centers are safe, engaging places for students to have a healthy snack, receive academic support, and engage musically and spiritually. The Internship program provides job training, professional and leadership development, college prep support, life skills and mentorship for teens.
For over 25 years, New City Kids has been committed to empowering inner city youth with the tools and support needed to succeed academically, professionally and in life.
HealthierJC + New City Kids
The New City Kids program closely aligns with the HealthierJC mission to expand access to quality education, promote fellowship, and build future community leaders. In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the contribution of New City Kids in advancing a Culture of Health in Jersey City by offering holistic services, which develop the whole child and promote a healthy lifestyle.
New City Kids mentor and walk young people through all aspects and stages of life. They provide social and emotional support for teens and their families, offer financial health instruction, and stand with them during times of uncertainty, stress, and pressure. The staff is committed to investing in long-term relationships, so teens will be well-equipped to deal with life’s challenges, make healthy choices, and effect positive change in the Jersey City community.
In addition to the HealthierJC Mini-Grant, the Teen Life Internship was funded by donations from individual supporters, as well as through ongoing government, private and corporate grants from institutions like the William E. Simon Foundation, the Bank of America Foundation, the Investors Bank Foundation, Capco, and others.
Teen Life Skills and Health Programs
Pre-covid, the HealthierJC Mini-Grant was used to develop a series of Life Skills course for teens employed in New City Kids’ Teen Life Internship program on Fairmount Ave in Jersey City. The material was taught at 18 “in-person” Ward F events, and 12 digital sessions. A total of 77 teens participated from all wards in Jersey City.
The Life Skills series consisted of three (3) courses: Ignition Life Skills, Financial Literacy Life Skills, and Senior Life Skills.
The Ignition Life Skills taught students about:
- Time management.
- Interpersonal relationship skills.
- Study skills for the future.
In the final Ignition Life Skills session, a Student Senior Panel made up of four (4) senior Teen Life Interns spoke about their New City Kids experiences and responded to underclassmen questions.
It was ‘an amazing full circle moment’ where the panel could remember when they were the new interns – full of questions and aspiring to be on the panel in their senior year. The challenges, successes, and perspective the panel shared resonated with the audience.
The Financial Literacy Life Skills provided an introduction to:
- The basics of banking.
- Saving and investing.
- Credit and long-term planning.
Highlighting the importance of practical financial knowledge for an overall healthy lifestyle, Josh Dornbos, former Executive Director of New City Kids: Jersey City (now with NJCU), instructed the Financial Literacy Life Skills series and gifted the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” book to each of the high school students attending the series.
The Senior Life skills focused higher education next steps, including:
- School considerations.
- The college application process (mobile apps and essay writing).
- The FAFSA application.
Pre-covid, in addition to the Life Skills series, New City Kids conducted Cooking and Nutrition classes, and provided Abuse Prevention training for all Jersey City teens. The Abuse Prevention training included:
- Instruction and resources to deal with trauma following the gun violence in Jersey City on December 10, 2019.
At the onset of the covid shutdown, New City Kids pivoted to focus on the uncertainties and stress experienced by neighborhood teens, and introduced a 6 session online Mental Health Education course covering the following topics:
- Commitments/Time Management.
- Dealing with Stress.
- Coping with Uncertainty.
- Social and Emotional Learning.
- Mindfulness for Emotional Intelligence.
To augment Mental Health Education, New City Kids also encouraged teens to keep physically active during the shutdown by offering a Dance and Active Class Training course.
The Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services and HealthierJC also assisted New City Kids with community outreach by distributing fact sheets, brochures and pamphlets about various health and wellness subjects to teen, their families, and community members.
Despite the COVID-19 shutdown, New City Kids staff maintains a high level of weekly contact with Jersey City youth in the Teen Life Internship program through texts, email, FaceTime, Google Hangout sessions, Zoom and other digital means.
Many of the students’ families continue to experience tremendous financial, health, and emotional challenges as parents lose jobs, families live in cramped spaces, and loved ones become ill, hospitalized, or pass away.
Working closely with teens during this time of uncertainty, stress, and crisis is invaluable to protect the mental and emotional health and well-being of youth enrolled in New City Kids’ programs. Taking the time to build and invest in meaningful youth relationships is a priority for New City Kids during this pandemic. And teen interns are encouraged to reach out and assist younger students by tutoring them remotely.
Moving forward, New City Kids seeks to collaborate with HealthierJC to conduct more learning activities for the young Jersey City community. For more information on New City Kids, please visit the organization’s website at https://newcitykids.org/jerseycity/