RU Ready for Work
RU Ready for Work (RUR) is a year-round, replicable career/work-readiness demonstration model designed for socio-economically challenged 10th -12th grade students. Founded on evidence based practices and periodic program assessment, RUR provides a proven effective framework that encourages persistence, academic success and graduation, and enhances educational, personal and life skills development. It also provides students with career preparation and work readiness skills and tools, including summer career track immersion, mentors and internship experiences. All of these elements are known to influence positive youth development. Since 2011, 100% of RUR participants graduated high school and since 2013, 100% of participants earned post-secondary placements, with the preponderance enrolling in 2- and 4-year colleges/universities, significantly exceeding both state and local averages. RUR operates in partnership with the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) to increase the percentage of Newark residents with college degrees or professional credentials from 13% to 25% by 2025. By design, RUR’s three-tier model improves outcomes among at-risk or marginalized students.
Summer Enrichment Program
The RU Ready summer enrichment component features a career immersion experience that exposes students to options in fields such as public and healthcare services, criminal justice, or brain health/psychology research. Students explore pathways to exciting, rewarding and attainable careers via guest speakers, field excursions and interaction with local career professionals. Students’ intern at local non-profit sites allowing them to hone workplace and professional skills, obtain guidance from a mentor/ supervisor, increase social capital and, in many instances, support work that benefits their community. Broadening social/cultural awareness is another hallmark of the summer experience. From participating in global teleconferences with students in Africa to trips to live performances, Broadway plays and historical museums, student discover how they connect to the world beyond their city’s boarders.
Luncheon Speaker Series
The RU Ready For Work Summer Program Luncheon Speaker Series provides an enriching opportunity for program participants to engage directly with university- and community-based professionals about various topics related to college and career preparation. This component of the summer program serves to reinforce concepts that participants learn and discuss in instructional workshops by exposing them to real world experts who share knowledge and experience in key competency areas that can lead to college and career success.
Through the Luncheon Speaker Series, participants have met and interacted with university officials, municipal leaders, entrepreneurs, healthcare practitioners, and nonprofit executives, as well as Rutgers-Newark students who impart valuable insights into the rigors and rewards of the college experience. Topics of discussion have included leadership, economic and community development, mentoring, goal setting, time management, and college admissions and financial aid processes. Ultimately, the Luncheon Speaker Series introduces RU Ready for Work participants to the idea that “doing lunch” with knowledgeable mentors and peers can lead to many valuable career and educational networking opportunities.
The RU Ready for Work program encourages students to be proactive citizens. During the summer, it partners with various local non-profit organizations to provide an opportunity for students to “give back” to their community. Some of the community service opportunities have been provided by:
- Essex County Division of Senior Services
- Goodwill Rescue Mission
- St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen
- Greater Newark Conservancy
- Freedom Ministries, Inc.
- Community Food Bank of New Jersey
RU Fit Day
Each summer the RU Ready for Work Program adopts a socially relevant theme that is then integrated into the entire summer enrichment curriculum, including field trips that are carefully chosen. The theme for the summer of 2013 was, Entrepreneurship: Building a New Economy in Our Community. Students went to Motown (The Musical) which demonstrated the significance of branding as an integral aspect of running a successful business or organization, as well as the many challenges to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
For 2017 the theme was Newark Through the Lens of History and Culture. In addition to excursions to local sites and art exhibits, students visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture where they gained a broader understanding of the historical context and cultural evolution of African Americans who had migrated to Newark. While there, they viewed a display on Baxter Terrace, which had been a landmark housing structure in Newark built before WWII.
The Public/Healthcare Services Track field trip to the Newark Liberty Airport- Quarantine Station field trip, introduced students to new career opportunities. Students had an opportunity to speak with various staff members regarding healthcare, level of education, and experience needed in order to pursue careers in this field. They discovered non-traditional careers in the healthcare industry that they never may have considered.