Paterson Public Schools officials announced Jan. 18 that the district has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Full-Service Community Schools program. The grant is in the amount of $499,959 and is expected to be renewed annually for five years for a total award of $2,499,795 and will benefit Public School No. 16 and the Alonzo Tambua Moody Academy.

Community schools provide a range of services to meet the unique needs of the students, families, and broader communities they serve, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Studies have found that well-implemented community schools — with integrated student supports, active family and community engagement, expanded and enriched learning time, and collaborative leadership practices — can lead to improved student and school outcomes, particularly for students in high-poverty schools.

“For the past 12 years, the district’s Full-Service Community Schools have been helping to provide for the needs of our students and their families so that our students can succeed,” said Superintendent of Schools Eileen F. Shafer. “This federal funding will help the district continue Full-Service Community Schools programs at two schools, allowing students and families to access critical services more conveniently and helping them to always be at their best.”

U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr., a former teacher and Paterson mayor, said, “Our school district here in Paterson has a bold vision for the future. With this federal grant and the leadership of our superintendent, Eileen Shafer, Paterson’s students and schools are leading the way in community engagement.” He added, “My office works every day to secure federal grants like this because our students deserve no less, and I am extremely proud that we were able to bring this investment home.”

Programs and services to be provided with the grant funding include an in-school health clinic with medical, dental, and mental health services; in-school academic assistance; after-school programs for students; adult education programs such as ESL and workforce development; and targeted support for at-risk students.

Shafer expressed her gratitude to Pascrell and N.J. State Sen. Nellie Pou, N.J. State Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly, N.J. State Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh for their advocacy of the district’s grant application.

Shafer also thanked the Paterson Public Schools team that worked to pursue the funding, including Deputy Superintendent Dr. Susana Peron, Full-Service Community Schools Director Jenna Goodreau, and Associate Projects Director Kristy Wellins. She also thanked Kemper McDowell, executive director of the Family and Community Engagement and Full-Service Community Schools Department; and Gilman Choudhury, supervisor of full-service outreach and special projects in the Family and Community Engagement and Full-Service Community Schools Department.

Paterson Public Schools has 10 Full-Service Community Schools. In addition to School 16 and the Alonzo Tambua Moody Academy, the others are Public School No. 5, the Senator Frank L. Lautenberg School, Public School No. 15, the New Roberto Clemente School, the Dr. Frank Napier School of Technology, John F. Kennedy High School, Public School No. 2, and the Joseph A. Taub School.

The U.S. Department of Education announced a total of $63 million in new five-year Full-Service Community Schools grants to support 42 local educational agencies, nonprofits, or other public or private organizations and institutions of higher education working to expand existing community schools or to establish new programs in eight new states and territories, including Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Puerto Rico.

Paterson was the only New Jersey school district to receive a portion of the $63 million.

To learn more about the grants and who received them, refer to the USDOE’s full news release.