As Newark continues enjoying an economic resurgence, how can the city ensure that its residents reap the benefits? Higher education is a big part of the answer. The Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC), at Rutgers University–Newark, is a network of more than 60 partners, including educational institutions, community organizations, corporations, and local government, aiming to increase the percentage of residents with postsecondary degrees from today’s 18 percent to 25 percent by 2025.

“For Newarkers to be able to take advantage of employment and other opportunities associated with economic development, they have to have a postsecondary credential,” says NCLC executive director Reginald Lewis.

NCLC, housed within the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, was founded in 2015 and became part of a 75-city effort by the Lumina Foundation to increase the national percentage of postsecondary degree holders to 60 percent. The collaborative recently implemented its first two initiatives in Newark: Pathways to Achievement and Success (PAS) and the Youth Leadership and Success Project (YLSP), both offering high school students a road map to postsecondary education. In January, PAS enrolled its first cohort of 150 10th-graders, who regularly visit Express Newark for arts workshops and Rutgers–Newark for college guidance and SAT prep. The initial cohort of 50 students in YLSP receive similar support within a social justice curriculum.

All of this is happening thanks to donors such as the Elizabeth and Barets O. Benjamin Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Foundation for Newark’s Future, the Kresge Foundation, the MCJ Amelior Foundation, the Prudential Foundation, the Turrell Fund, and the Victoria Foundation. NCLC “would not exist,” Lewis says, “without their  generosity.”