Trenton, NJ – A new YE2S Center, modeled on the successful Youth Education and Employment Success Center that Rutgers T.E.E.M. Gateway has operated in Newark since 2008, has opened at the Trenton Daylight/Twilight High School, an alternative school in Trenton which serves both youth and adults. Trenton Mayor Tony Mack announced the opening at a press conference on November 22, 2010.
“The new Trenton YE2S Center at the Daylight/Twilight School holistically reaches our young people with themes like hope, perseverance, and a limitless future. In partnership with Trenton Public Schools, Rutgers University, Mercer County Community College, The Nicholson Foundation and others, this center provides structured youth programming which changes lives, and changes communities," Mayor Mack said.
The Trenton Youth Success Center will provide out-of-school and court-involved Trenton youth, ages 16 through 21, with opportunities to explore educational options, enroll in programs, gain employment training and participate in a variety of development experiences. The facility, centrally located and easily accessible, will offer on-site individual case management, educational and employment placement assistance, family services, computer-based and skill building classes, mentoring and more.
As in Newark, Rutgers T.E.E.M. Gateway staff will facilitate the Trenton YE2S Center operations. As part of its core mission to foster education success for long-term societal benefit, Rutgers is invested in seeing the Youth Success Center model continue to thrive so it can be replicated in even more of New Jersey's urban areas.
“During a tumultuous period for our economy," Rutgers University President, Richard L. McCormick, said, "we should always keep in mind that education is a dependable asset that gains in value and pays dividends, both for the individual and for society. We cannot afford to have students drop out of school and fall short of their potential.”
Mayor Mack echoed this sentiment. "Our most important resource is our youth. We must continue to find and implement resources to build constructive and positive opportunities for our youth."
The Daylight/Twilight School, which provides daytime and evening intensive education for struggling students, is a natural fit for this alternative type of outreach program. Current students of the school were on hand to share their stories of overcoming adversity.
"At the time, when I dropped out of school, I didn't know what I was going to do or where I was going to go," said Michael Smith. "When you come to Daylight/Twilight, you don't just learn books. You learn how once you make a connection, it keeps you planted, it keeps you grounded. And once you're grounded, then you can take off for the stars."
In addition to helping students explore educational and career opportunities, Trenton YE2S Center staff will also offer referral monitoring and follow-up support to Trenton students returning to traditional and alternative education. The YE2S Center goal is to re-connect Trenton youth who are on probation or parole, are truant or have dropped out of schools.
"This is what it's all about... reaching out to those who society may not look at favorably and watching young people talk about their stories and how they went through obstacles, how they fell down, but ultimately how they got up. That's what Trenton is about: we're a city of second chances, we're a city of getting back up," said Mayor Mack.
"For the sake of Trenton, for the sake of New Jersey, and above all for the sake of the young people themselves," said President McCormick, "we can't let students drop out of school and fall short of their potential.If they do drop out, we have reach back to them and bring them back. That's what this program is all about."