Rutgers University Foundation

Impact: Winter 2013

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OUR RUTGERS, OUR FUTURE With Honors When the Camden Honors College was created in 1997, its intent was to offer high-achieving and likeminded students a place to convene, socialize, and study on Rutgers���Camden���s commuter-heavy campus. By the mid-2000s, however, the popularity and growth of the program rendered its small space in the Paul Robeson Library insufficient. When new quarters were identified but low funds precluded a move, the school���s students, alumni, and friends stepped in to help���an effort led by Jennie Owens CCAS���03, CLAW���06; Scott Owens CCAS���04, GSC���10; and Allen Woll, a longtime professor and former director of the honors college. Jennie, an attorney, and Scott, a senior admissions officer at Rutgers, pledged $15,000 to renovate the new space at 319 Cooper Street. Woll, recognizing that the giving desire of most young graduates would likely outpace their capacity to donate, established a challenge fund to match, dollar for dollar, the amount made by any Camden Honors College graduate, up to $25,000. All funds will support refurbishment efforts and subsidize long-awaited amenities like computer labs, seminar rooms, administrative offices, lecture halls, and a student lounge. ���Jen Reiseman STEP in the Right Direction With two foundation grants totaling $4 million, Rutgers and New Jersey will become a national model for providing higher education behind bars. W hen it comes to helping incarcerated people get a college education, the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons (NJ-STEP) Consortium is at the top of its class. It has long been known that higher education reduces recidivism rates, and NJ-STEP, which is housed in Rutgers��� School of Criminal Justice, administered by Rutgers���Newark, and run in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Corrections and state parole board, offers the only coordinated, statewide approach in the country. Launched in August 2012 and continuing through 2016, NJ-STEP is funded by $2 million from the Ford Foundation and $2 million from the Sunshine Lady Foundation. It coordinates a group of previously separate behind-bars programs, which provide college courses to people in prison and work to enroll them upon release. The scope is unprecedented, with programs run by Rutgers (Newark and New Brunswick campuses), Drew University, Essex County College, Mercer County Community College, Princeton University, Raritan Valley Community College, and The College of New Jersey. ���Nobody else is doing this at the level we���re doing it,��� says Margaret Atkins, director of the consortium. The goal is to raise an additional $500,000 per year to enable NJ-STEP to expand to full capacity. By 2016, it will be serving 1,200 to 1,500 inmates, and the state���s 11 eligible correctional centers will be participating. Included in this total will be some 100 students per year through Rutgers��� work at Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County, which produced the university���s 2012 Truman Scholar, Walter Fortson SAS���13. As a result of the grants from the Sunshine Lady and Ford foundations, NJ-STEP was selected to be a part of the nationwide Pathways From Prison to Postsecondary Education Project, directed by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit organization. This larger platform will enable NJ-STEP to serve as a model for other states and pursue new avenues of funding. The New Jersey consortium will thus lead the country in shifting the paradigm of the criminal justice system to one that rewards success and calls the private and nonprofit sectors into greater roles in doing so, says Todd R. Clear, dean of the School of Criminal Justice. ���If it works, it will make the state safer, save money, and change lives.��� ���Nancy Ruhling Scan with your smartphone for a video featuring Truman Scholar Walter Fortson.

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