August 7, 2017

Now sixteen years old and about to start her junior year at Passaic County Technical Institute, En 'Janae Broughton vividly remembers her days in PK-3 and PK-4 at Paterson Family Center (PFC), NJCDC's award-winning preschool. She said, "I loved going to PFC! I learned so much by playing and exploring – especially how to socialize with other kids my age."

PFC was only the first of the many NJCDC programs for En 'Janae.

Every Christmas Eve, En 'Janae attended NJCDC's Annual Holiday Party, where thousands of Paterson children are given holiday gifts. She loved not only receiving fun new toys, but meeting Santa, getting her face painted, and doing arts and crafts.

After graduating from PFC, En 'Janae attended kindergarten through third grade at PS #20, and then fourth and fifth grades at the Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP), which was founded by NJCDC in 2008. En 'Janae said, "CCSP helped me a lot, especially with my academics. It's an extraordinary school where the teachers really care and they consistently push you to keep trying and to do your best. Before CCSP, I didn't take school seriously and was more focused on spending time with my friends. It was only when I was a student at CCSP that I began taking school seriously."

While CCSP now serves 900 children in grades K-8, when En 'Janae was a student there, the school only went through Grade 5; she attended New Roberto Clemente for middle school. When it came time to apply to high school, En 'Janae decided to apply to the competitive Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI), where NJCDC has a Teen Center, and was thrilled when she was accepted. There, she's studying video production and is an active member of the school's American Sign Language Club.

En 'Janae has also kept busy when not in school, spending this summer and last as a member of NJCDC's Junior YouthBuild program. Junior YouthBuild, which is funded by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) earmarked through the City of Paterson, focuses on community revitalization activities, including neighborhood cleanup and revitalization projects, garden building, and community outreach. The students also learn resume writing and interviewing skills through the program.

Junior YouthBuild is also a great way for Paterson youth to earn money, as the program participants earn $1,500 over the course of the summer. En 'Janae said, "Junior YouthBuild has been a great way for me to not only help my community, but to also be around kids my own age and earn money that I can save towards my future college expenses."

En 'Janae loves the Junior YouthBuild program so much that she even convinced a number of her friends to apply this year. She said, "I encouraged them to apply and told them how you meet new people, learn new skills, and make a difference." Her powers of persuasion worked: a number of her friends applied to the program, and one is now a member of Junior YouthBuild.

En 'Janae is looking forward to starting her junior year of high school next month. She's extremely determined to go to college and plans on attending as many college tours as possible with NJCDC and PCTI. She said, "NJCDC has had a huge impact on my life and I'm so grateful that I've been able to participate in so many of its programs. Without NJCDC, I don't think I'd be where I am today, and I don't think I'd have my sights set so high."

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