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Summer is a Season of Learning at NJCDC!

Summer is a Season of Learning at NJCDC!

August 31, 2023

Every summer, NJCDC offers free programming to Paterson youth, with activities ranging from academic support to arts programs, community service activities, and more. For many students, school provides necessary routine and stability throughout the year, which is then lost over the summer.

The biggest impact of this loss of routine is summer learning loss, where students lose some of the academic skills that they gained over the previous school year. This has been a concern for almost 100 years! Summer learning loss results in teachers having to spend the beginning of each school year reviewing information students forgot over the summer, using school time that could otherwise have been spent learning new material.

This summer learning loss disproportionately impacts low-income students, who fall up to three years behind their more affluent peers by fifth grade. Low-income students are also more likely to struggle with basic needs such as food insecurity and a lack of safe community spaces due to school closures over the summer.

At NJCDC, our summer programming combats these barriers, providing healthy and fun learning environments to all Paterson youth. Academic programs focusing on math, reading, and critical thinking skills ensure that students are prepared for the start of the next school year. Other enrichment programs give students the opportunity to interact with peers, discover new interests, and give back to their community.

Bridge to Success

Bridge to Success is a four-week program preparing rising ninth-grade students for the transition from middle school to high school. This year, we had two cohorts of the program, with a total of 50 students participating. Through "High School 101" activities, these students learned everything they need to start high school ready to succeed, including time management, navigating and choosing classes, responding to peer pressure and bullying, developing effective study skills, handling academic stress, preparing for college, and more. We are grateful to Mrs. Marilyn Clark for underwriting the costs of this program.


The Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP) — which NJCDC founded in 2008 — held a summer program for nearly 300 scholars in grades K-8. 21st CCLC's Project Believe program included academic enrichment, as well as engaging extracurricular activities. Clubs focused on topics including Sign Language, Robotics, the Environment, Latin Dance and Culture, Arts and Crafts, and Boxing and Fitness. Students also received a special visit from members of the Passaic County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol Unit, who taught them about horses and how they help in the community!

Compete for Life

A federally-funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, Compete for Life provides year-round academic enrichment and support to students at John F. Kennedy Educational Complex during non-school hours and aims to create a career- and college-bound focus among students and families. This summer, more than 75 youth participated in the program, which offered classes in Drumming, STEAM, Culinary Arts, Mindfulness, and Martial Arts and field trips to Liberty Science Center, Adventure Aquarium, and Turtle Back Zoo.

Great Falls Youth Center

Our Great Falls Youth Center served as a safe space for Paterson high school students to do college prep, spend time with friends, play sports including basketball and soccer, and participate in engaging youth development programming. Summer classes included Collaborative Arts, Yoga, Resiliency Training, Self-Defense and Martial Arts, Fitness Bootcamp, Cooking Class, and Public Speaking. Students also took multiple field trips to the Ridgewood YMCA!

Great Falls Youth Corps

The Great Falls Youth Corps is a program operated by NJCDC in partnership with the National Park Service. This year, five high school students participated in the eight-week summer employment program at the Great Falls National Historical Park. Participants learned more about the history of the Great Falls and provided tours and educational programs to visitors. Students also got more experience with the operations of a national park, including learning about safety and visitor services. They also visited other National Parks including Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook and the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA where they camped for three nights.

Junior YouthBuild

Our Junior YouthBuild program is a five-week summer employment program for Paterson youth. Through community service activities, Junior YouthBuild empowers local youth to take an active role in the revitalization of their community. This year, 30 Paterson teens dedicated their time and efforts to cleaning and beautifying the community through neighborhood clean-ups, garden builds, and park revitalization projects. Junior YouthBuild was made possible thanks to an $80,000 grant from the City of Paterson's allotment of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

Summer City Planning Institute

NJCDC helped to facilitate this program, which encourages Paterson youth to be involved in planning the future of their city. This year, 10 students spent three weeks creating a plan to make Paterson — and the Great Falls Neighborhood — more welcoming to visitors. After walking around the neighborhood and observing what features could make the area safer and more welcoming, students began to plan a comprehensive Great Falls tourist district, which will encourage more people to visit the Great Falls National Historical Park and inspire more park visitors to stay and explore Paterson while they are there. At the end of the program, the students prepared a presentation detailing the problems they noticed and potential solutions to them and received a stipend for their hard work.

Summer Youth Arts

Our Summer Youth Arts Program encourages Paterson youth entering grades 1-5 to explore their creativity through a four-week camp. This year, 70 Paterson youth participated in arts activities ranging from dance to music to arts and crafts. At the end of the program, students went on a field trip to the Crayola Factory!

Teen Centers

Funded by the Department of Children and Families, NJCDC operates school-based youth service programs in four area high schools. These comprehensive Teen Centers encourage healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, so that teens can complete high school successfully and progress onto higher education or into the workforce.

The Teen Centers offer free educational and recreational enrichment programming, tutoring, employment assistance, college advice, and counseling and support services year-round, both during the day and outside of school hours—including over the summer. Our Teen Centers are located at Clifton High School, International High School, Passaic Valley Regional High School, and Passaic County Technical Institute. Throughout the summer, students received mental health services and help with college applications, and also participated in self-improvement workshops, leadership development programming, team-building activities, and field trips. By the end of the summer, students who participated in Teen Center programming felt much more prepared for the upcoming school year!

Bob Guarasci, NJCDC's CEO, stated that "Summer is never a quiet time at NJCDC! We work hard to provide hundreds of Paterson youth with meaningful activities to make the summer fun and productive, and our team did a banner job of engaging young people this summer.

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