(NEWARK, NJ) -- After 11 years of miraculous growth and support, local non-profit MENTOR Newark celebrated a successful year building a mentorship culture across the City of Newark at their “Up the Ante” Gala at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on Tuesday, September 19. During the gala, a video tribute was played featuring U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Attendees also saw an exclusive preview of a student-curated exhibit honoring The Artist Formerly Known as Prince debuting later this week, mentors from the New York Giants received the Changemakers Awards, and a $982,000 grant distributed over three years was awarded by Solon E. Summerfield Foundation to support a successful college mentoring initiative.
Thomas Owens, Executive Director of MENTOR Newark says, “Every project that MENTOR Newark engages in is directed by three principals. We create joy for young people, putting them in position and equipping them to find and define their own joy. We engage purposeful people, in purposeful preparation and training to engage honestly and purposefully with students. We at MENTOR Newark see the work from an aspirational lens and not one clouded by trauma and deficit. And finally, we provide students with the opportunity to determine and realize their dreams.”
“There's simply no better investment, as you know, than we could make in helping and guiding our youth, and that's why we created MENTOR Newark years ago,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker in a video greeting, who helped establish the organization in 2012. “We knew the power, the transformational work that MENTOR Newark does for young people in our city. We know that work is unmatched in its impact. Mentors play an incredibly crucial role in the well-being and success of our young people. Really, it's about cultivating their genius, seeing them for who they are and who they can and will be.”
Approximately 150 attendees gathered together to celebrate the organization’s progress to enhance and create quality mentoring opportunities for students across Newark. Attendees received an exclusive first look at a new exhibit that is opening September 22 at the historic Hahne’s Building in downtown Newark that MENTOR Newark student-mentees are curating in collaboration with their mentors David Byer-Tyre and Jesse Jenkins called, “Remembering the Purple One: A Tribute Exhibit Honoring the Legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson.” The exhibit highlights Prince’s cultural impact, and showcases mentoring’s ability to open new doors for students by giving them access to MENTOR Newark’s corporate and community partners.
MENTOR Newark also announced the New York Giants mentors as this year’s Community Changemaker. Recipient Ethan Medley, Director of Community Relations and Youth Football at the NY Giants reflected on his own experience with essential mentors and activated the crowd to give back: “There are so many young people with amazing gifts that just need somebody to step in outside of their parents, outside of their household and say, you have special gifts and here's something you can do with it.”
The Summerfield Fund grant was announced by Laurel Dumont to support the expansion of the successful College Mentor Project. The College Mentor Project supports college coaching for high school seniors in Newark schools and is a collaboration between College Access Research and Action (CARA) CUNY, Newark Community of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) and MENTOR Newark.
Throughout the evening, the organization also shared its accomplishments over the last year and plans for the future. By collaborating with partners like the Newark Board of Education, the City of Newark, the New Jersey Devils Youth Foundation, Trillium, RAOS/SOVOS Brands, and others, MENTOR Newark has laid the foundation to build an innovative and sustainable youth mentoring culture in the city of Newark – a culture the organization plans to grow and expand in the years ahead.
“The New Jersey Performing Arts Center was thrilled to host MENTOR Newark’s gala this year,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO, NJPAC. “NJPAC has enjoyed partnering with MENTOR Newark to provide mentoring opportunities that have been incredibly meaningful to young people in our community. We are invested in the future of Newark and there is no better way to create a brighter future than by investing in our youth through mentoring opportunities.”
MENTOR Newark is a mentor development network that provides professional development, training, and capacity building to schools and community organizations. The non-profit serves as the primary partner to the Newark Board of Education and charter school network to create quality mentoring opportunities for all students in the City of Newark.
The gala was sponsored by the following organizations: Trillium, LeeAnn Carlson & Steve Van Kuiken, Winston & Strawn, Ernst & Young, US Pharmacopeia (USP), Revelstoke Capital Partners, Rose Cali, Rao’s, NJPAC. Across the Board grants included Bari Mattes, Dom DeChiara, Conversion Venture Capital, NY Giants, Jonathan Crystal, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Howard Lipshutz, and VeraData. Additional event sponsors included: The Rich Benson Collection, BrownMill, CURATEUR, Liz Funk, Madison Square Garden, Michele Cerwin, Museum of Ice Cream, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, NY Jets, The MCJ Amelior Foundation, Tumbling Dice, Unionwear, and Will and Carolyn Tisch Blodgett.