SPOTLIGHT THIS ISSUE: The Need for a Collective Community Focus on Literacy Development


From the ED's Desk

The United States is facing a literacy crisis. Approximately one out of five American adults have literacy skills at or below Level 1 as measured by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Adults below Level 1 may only be able to understand elementary vocabulary or be functionally illiterate. Adults in this range have difficulty understanding or using print materials. Adults can read relatively short digital or print texts to locate a single piece of information that is identical to or synonymous with the information given in the question. People at the higher end of this category may be able to perform simple tasks based on what they read. PIAAC reports that an additional one in three adults scores within the level 2 range. Adults in this range can match digital or print text with similar information, paraphrase, or make low-level inferences.

In Newark, almost ten years after Mayor Ras Baraka launched "Read and Believe," an initiative to combat Newark's low literacy rate at the time - "52% of adults 17 and older are functionally illiterate" -  this problem persists. Although we do not have access to current city-level literacy rates, the PIAAC reports that one in three adults in Essex County is classified as having a literacy proficiency score at or below Level 1. Another third of adults score within level 2. Of the 585,000 people in Essex County ages 16-64, 375,000 may struggle to read and write daily.

Due to the Covid pandemic, Newark has been further burdened with learning interruptions that have impeded the attainment of high literacy skills among students. In Newark's district and charter schools, 30,419 students took the ELA exam during the last fully administered testing period in Spring 2019, a year before the Covid outbreak. In total, 7,077 district students (23.3%) and 6,126 charter students (20.1%) met or exceeded expectations in English Language Arts. However, 17,216 (56.6%) did not.

The 2021 Start Strong Assessment results, taken during Covid and reported in TapintoNewark, raised additional concern, with only 22.1% of grade 4 to 8 Newark students tested demonstrating proficiency in reading. Newark Public Schools ELA District Proficiency Rate for Federal Accountability dropped to a six-year low in 2022, the first "post-pandemic "testing cycle, dramatically reversing what had been an upward trajectory before the pandemic (31.8% - 2017, 35% - 2018, 36.3% - 2019, NA - 2020, NA - 2021, 27% - 2022). 

The long-term consequences are significant. 

"The average annual income of adults who are at the minimum proficiency level for literacy (Level 3) is nearly $63,000, significantly higher than the average of roughly $48,000 earned by adults who are just below proficiency (Level 2) and much higher than those at the lowest levels of literacy (Levels 0 and 1), who earn just over $34,000 on average. Michael T. Nietzel

We must, as a city, come together to help our young people get on track. As Newark's district and charter schools strive to support their students through high-dosage tutoring and accelerated learning strategies, parents and other community members need to take parallel, aligned, and collective actions to enhance young people's acquisition of reading, writing, and speaking skills. As part of its commitment, the Newark Trust for Education supports efforts to increase family and other community members' knowledge of strategies for developing literacy at home and in the community.



To ensure that young people have the literacy tools they need for future learning, viable career paths, and informed civic engagement, we are seeking 500 residents of Newark who are willing to take the pledge.

Sign up now. It takes one minute.

Newark's young people are curious learners and influential, problem-solving community members.

Through a sustained and informed community focus on literacy, our young people will be equipped to achieve high levels of proficiency as readers, writers, and speakers, all of which will strengthen their ability to continue learning, succeed in competitive careers and be civically active.


I promise to learn, promote, and practice key reading, writing, and speaking skills with all of the young people in my life. Read more, sign up now. 


Science of Reading Gives Kids the Best Chance to Close the Literacy Gap

By John B. King & Jacquelyn Davis November 16, 2022

King & Davis: The brain isn't wired to read. Most kids need instruction in phonics, vocabulary & background knowledge to grasp the written word

The human brain is wired to speak and absorb language — but not to read. Only 20% to 30% of children learn to read without explicitly being taught. The remaining 70% to 80% need effective curriculum and structured instruction to gain the literacy skills to keep on track with their learning progression. READ MORE

Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction.

Congressional Charge In 1997, Congress asked the  "Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a national panel to assess the status of research-based knowledge, including the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching children to read." The panel was charged with providing a report that  "should present the  rn'e' conclusions, an indication of the readiness for application in the classroom of the results of this research, and, if appropriate, a strategy for rapidly disseminating this information to facilitate effective reading instruction in the schools. If found warranted, the panel should also recommend a plan for additional research regarding early reading development and instruction."

Click Here To Access The Full Report

Outlook 2023: What Matters and What Works in Literacy Instruction

To transform students into skilled readers, schools must understand the science of reading and align their literacy instruction to it. The science of reading is a cumulation of research in education, psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience. This paves the way for what students need to learn and how they need to learn it.

Click Here To Access The Full Report


Engaging Parents/Sharing Information

To support families at home, we created a series of Facebook posts to share strategies and practices related to the five pre-reading skills. This is intended to encourage caregivers to engage children in these highlighted games and activities, so they can develop skills and become successful readers, writers, and thinkers.

Check out our website to view Facebook posts sharing information about pre-reading skills and how parents can assist their development at home.

Engaging Education Stakeholders/Sharing Information


Forming Early Learning Habits: Newark ParentChild+ Families and Their Toddlers Redefine Their Homes as Learning Environments  This report is a qualitative study of parent/caregiver participation in the Newark ParentChild+ Early Learning program, conducted in Spring 2019, that highlights three levels of integration of the program into parent-child and extended family routines. As the Trust engages families in the ongoing work of supporting literacy development across the city we are referencing the lessons learned from this study. 

For Additional Information, Click Here To Visit Our Website


Developing Partnerships / Informing Policy


As a community leader representing Newark's education ecosystem, Ronald Chaluisán serves on the Education Collaborative Learning Table, along with Charity Anderson of the Cornwall Center, a Rutgers faculty member representative.

A $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has helped Rutgers establish the Education Collaborative Learning Table as part of its Equity Alliance for Community Health (REACH) program. It aims to address five social determinants of health - food security/access/housing, education, employment, and population health - in three New Jersey cities - Camden, New Brunswick, and Newark.  

The work is organized into five Collaborative Learning Tables, one for each SDoH.  Each table includes a dyad from the three cities, a graduate student process coach, and a graduate student content coach.  Each dyad includes one community leader with significant expertise in the area of focus and one faculty/staff person from Rutgers with expertise in the area of focus as well. 

The work consists of attending a two-hour meeting each month, attending a 2-day Boundary Spanning Leadership training retreat for all CLT members, and helping us develop our policy recommendations from a REACH-sponsored conference focused on education. 

To see the official announcement of the grant award from last December, click here.

Engaging Community/Youth Voice

The Trust supports youth-developed, social-emotional interventions for high school students

The next issue of Trust Matters will contain a video featuring three Science Park high school students and the school social worker discussing how they developed and implemented a school-wide peer mentoring program as part of their comprehensive social and emotional learning program.

Please check your inbox for Trust Matters, January 6, 2023. This is a story you will not want to miss.

The Trust applauds the work of The Boys to Leaders Foundation

Latino Youth Leadership Conference Unites Students In Newark
The Boys to Leaders Foundation hosted a successful 9th annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference.
Eric Kiefer, Patch Staff, Posted Fri, Dec 16, 2022

The annual youth conference is specifically designed for male students ranging from ages fourteen to twenty and is geared towards promoting a culture of leadership and communication skills which are fundamental to achieving personal development and professional success. READ MORE




School Provider and Quality Implementation Workgroup (SPQI) Statewide Survey 

We want to get the perspectives of school-based staff, providers, district administrators, and parents/caregivers on effective school-provider relationships that support high-quality SEL implementation.

The Newark Trust for Education, in partnership with SEL4NJ's School Provider and Quality Implementation (SPQI) workgroup, will launch a statewide survey to collect data to develop a framework for effective school-provider relationships that support high-quality SEL implementation. We would like to hear from school-based staff, providers, district administrators, and parents/caregivers about this important and timely topic. Please complete the survey if you are a member of one of these constituent groups. The process takes about 15 minutes. Those who complete the survey will be entered to win ten $10 gift cards.

Please select one stakeholder group that you feel you best represent and fill out the corresponding survey using the appropriate link below.


Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

Update on New Jersey Assembly and Senate bill that requires Medicaid reimbursement for covered behavioral health services provided by local education agency to a student who is eligible Medicaid beneficiary.  A-3334 | S-2416)

The Newark Trust for Education signed on to a request to post S-2416 for consideration at the next meeting of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

A-3334 (S-2416) passed unanimously out of committee last week out of the Assembly Human Services committee. On 12/8/2022, the bill was reported and referred to Assembly Education Committee.

NJ Senate Passes Free Menstrual Product Bill For Public Schools

Eric Kiefer, Patch Staff, Posted Tue, Dec 20, 2022

New Jersey schools would have to provide free menstrual products for students under a proposed law. They'd be reimbursed by the state. READ MORE

Early Learning

The Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act

This legislation was included in the Omnibus, is expected to pass this week, and be sent to the President for signature.

This bill reauthorizes through FY2027, increases funding for, and modifies the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. This program supports home visits for expectant and new parents who live in communities that are at risk for poor maternal and child health outcomes.

Changes to the program include

  • setting out requirements for allocating program funds;
  • increasing the percentage of funds reserved for tribal entities;
  • establishing a publicly available dashboard that reports program outcomes;
  • requiring activities to reduce unnecessary data collection, reporting, and other administrative requirements of the program; and
  • allowing for virtual home visits (provided certain conditions are met).

Digital Access for All

Reminder about the Affordable Connectivity Program

The ACP was created by Congress and implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help eligible households receive a subsidy of up to $30 a month, or up to $75 a month on Tribal Lands, towards internet service. 

You may be qualified for the program if:

  • You, your child, or your dependent participate in certain government assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, or other programs.
  • You’re a member of select Tribal Assistance programs.
  • You, your child, or your dependent already receive a Lifeline benefit.
  • You received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
  • You’re eligible based on your household income.

To enroll:

  • Apply to qualify at
  • Call your local carrier to connect to the service and apply the benefit to your bill


There was no news coverage of the Trust during this period.


Some Newark Public Schools Nearly Empty While Others Are Overflowing
School Board Members Question Superintendent Over Expansion Plans

By FRANK SCANY'eE, Published December 19, 2022

With more than 313,000 square feet of space and some 50 classrooms, Malcolm X. Shabazz High School in Newark's South Ward is more than two-thirds empty, according to data collected by the district and reported to the state. READ MORE

Charter school in Newark and partners support scholars in need

By Editor on December 19, 2022

NEWARK, NJ — Great Oaks Legacy Charter School in Newark partnered with two organizations to provide gifts to scholars in need ahead of this holiday season. Precious Dreams donated comfort bags with blankets, journals, socks, and more for scholars who either live in shelters, temporary homes, or have been displaced to empower them to self-comfort while Newark's in uncertainty. READ MORE

Extend COVID Stipend To Per Diem Workers, Newark Teachers Union Says

Eric Kiefer, Patch Staff, Posted Mon, Dec 19, 2022

The Newark Teachers Union is asking the board of education to extend a $1,000 stipend to a range of "per diem" employees. READ MORE

‘I want Black students to feel valued’: Newark Global Studies students describe pattern of racism

By Jessie Gomez. Dec 15, 2022.

When Brenda Brown read what the Newark School of Global Studies had to offer, she knew her son had to go.

Brown’s son, Terril Coley, was excited about being immersed in a high school that offered a global perspective, where he could study different cultures and prepare to study abroad in Taiwan or the Middle East. It seemed like a good deal for a young Black man from Newark, but three years after starting Global Studies, Coley is about to transfer out. READ MORE


Our Team at the Newark Trust for Education is dedicated to coordinating efforts and focusing resources to improve the quality of public education and secure an accountability framework among multiple stakeholders. We envision a comprehensive education system that strives to create equitable learning conditions that support young people in achieving rigorous academic performances and accessing high-quality postsecondary opportunities. Whether you are a Newark parent or community member, teacher, administrator, or Newark Trust partner or stakeholder, you are a part of this. Your donation will help us continue fulfilling our mission and vision and achieve great outcomes for our young people and their communities.

Click here to learn more about donating!

Thank you for everything you do for our young people and their families. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out at any time at [email protected].


Arts Ed Newark, Arts Ambassadors Program - [Trust-Ed Partner]

Arts Ed Newark is kicking off the Arts Ambassadors initiative to train parents and caregivers to act as arts education organizers and “HUB” in their local community and champions for Arts Education in their schools. Through in-person and virtual classes from January 2023 through June 2023, Arts Ambassadors will become arts policy experts and develop skills in storytelling with a focus on the arts as a tool for social justice advocacy.

Sessions will include Issues, Systems, Advocacy Strategies, & Advocacy Tools. 

As a Mentor, you will be assisting the Ambassadors with the project they want to implement.

You will be required to attend the following sessions:

  • Orientation on January 23, 2023, from 6-8 PM
  • The last session of the program taking place the week of May 29, 2023
  • Graduation, the week of June 19, 2023

You will also be required to attend at least 3 virtual office hours via Zoom. These take place one Wednesday a month starting in February. The dates are as follows: February 22, 2023, March 22, 2023, April 26, 2023, May 17, 2023, June 14, 2023

Click here for the application. Deadline to submit is December 28, 2022.

If you have questions, email Amber Brown-Kelly 

The Arts Professional Learning Institute (APLI) For Teachers And Educators

The Arts Professional Learning Institute (APLI) is New Jersey's arts education professional learning opportunity that pairs teaching artists and school partners in collaborative, engaging workshops throughout the state. The Arts Professional Learning Institute (APLI) is a co-sponsored project of Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern PA and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition, the Grunin Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation generously support it. We welcome candidates of all backgrounds (race, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or veteran status) who live and work within New Jersey. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2022.

Learn more here:

The Academy for SEL in Schools: Webinars 

The Academy for SEL in Schools is hosting a series of free live webinars on Best Practical Practices in your SEL/Character Work beginning in January 2023. The Academy faculty are offering webinars. They cover SEL instruction, school leadership, SEL professional development, SEL and academics, Tier 2 SEL interventions, and SEL and Equity. Every webinar will have time for Q and A. The Academy also offers an online social and emotional learning certificate with a concentration in school leadership or classroom instruction.

Register here:

The New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children (NJCIC)

The New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children (NJCIC) will be hosting a free Know Your Rights presentation for immigrant youth and families from the Greater Newark area to discuss immigration court, legal status, and school enrollment on Thursday, January 5th, from 5 to 7 pm at NJ Citizen Action (165 Halsey Street, Newark). Free refreshments will be provided!


National Urban Fellow Program

National Urban Fellows develops accomplished and courageous professionals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, particularly people of color and women, to be leaders and change agents in the public and nonprofit sectors, with a solid commitment to social justice and equity. The deadline for the National Urban Fellows Program is right around the corner. Head over to EdLoC Connect to watch our previous chat with Lisa Rawlings, Ph.D., the CEO of NUF, to learn about how NUF creates opportunities for talented professionals of color. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2023.

Learn more here

Arts Ed, New Jersey - [Trust-Ed Partner]

Arts Ed NJ is offering this unique no-cost learning opportunity

January 16, 2023 – March 10, 2023

Register Here

Link to the FAQ page

The CRAE Workout is an opportunity for educators, parents, and other stakeholders to join a community of people dedicated to learning, self-discovery, and supporting each other. The workout is an eight-week, asynchronous, synchronous experience running from January 16 through March 10. 

We are all continuing to experience uncertainty and exhaustion and are looking for practical ways to connect with students. Culturally responsive and relevant teaching practices are a powerful way to help teachers refuel their reservoirs and cultivate a sense of belonging and safety for students. The series allows educators and other interested adults to learn what CRAE is, reflect on their own practices/ways of being, and intentionally embed culturally responsive practices into their work and validate all young people’s cultures and lived experiences.

 - [Trust-Ed Partner]

TFA NJ Regional Programming for School & Systems Leaders


Register here.

Registration ends Jan. 11th, 2023. Questions? Email [email protected]

The Newark Trust supports TFA's belief that when teachers' professional and wellness needs are met, they will more effectively meet the needs of their students. These free professional development opportunities, designed for School and School Systems leaders, start in January

They are open to the public.


Newark Arts - [Trust-Ed Partner]

Be a part of history!

Donate to the Tubman Monument & Become a Tubman Troop
Tubman Troops are residents, corporations, and organizations within the Newark community and beyond who believe in the liberatory work Harriet Tubman began and carry on the torch by supporting the development of Harriet Tubman’s monument at Tubman Square (formerly known as Washington Park).

The Knowledge House (TKH) The Karim Kharbouch Coding Fellowship application will open on February 6th, 2023


The Knowledge House (TKH) 

The Innovation Fellowship Application will open on March 6th, 2023

SEL4NJ - [Trust-Ed Partner]

On Friday, March 10, 2023, The Trust, in collaboration with SEL4US and The Urban Assembly, invites schools and communities around the globe to celebrate the fourth annual International SEL Day. Our theme this year is Uplifting Hearts, Connecting Minds. This is an all-online day event.

Register here


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