SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — As Community Practitioner-in-Residence at Seton Hall University’s Center for Community Research and Engagement, Jamila T. Davis launched the Change for Good program, according to an Oct. 10 news release.
The program, launched with the Newark Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, is designed to give high-risk adults a second chance and local youth what could be their first.
Program participants have the opportunity to heal, transform their thinking, and engage in a program designed to foster a variety of career paths and enable these young people to become more productive members of society.
“The Center for Community Engagement and Research has been bringing together the resources of the university to develop creative solutions to community issues for nearly 25 years,” said Professor Roseanne Mirabella, the center’s executive director and chair of the MPA program at Seton. Lobby. “These latest programs go to the heart of our mission: to bring the power of opportunity and the opportunity of power to the people – especially black and brown youth who have been systematically deprived of both.”
The program is in many ways a continuation and expansion of the Summer Work Experience program, also run by Davis, which brought together Seton Hall and the City of East Orange to bring educational, workplace training, skills entrepreneurial and mental health counseling to high school students in the East Orange School District over the past three summers.
Change for Good also incorporates part of the active civic education of the Social Justice Certificate Program, which Davis also led at Seton Hall with Professor Juan Rios, director of the university’s Master of Social Work program.
The Social Justice Certificate Program was a collaboration between the Center for Community Research and Engagement, the South Orange Community Care & Justice Program, and the Newark Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery. The certificate program brought together community members from Newark, South Orange, East Orange, Irvington, and Brooklyn at Seton Hall to learn from the experts, each other, and a program that historicizes the context of the black and urban experience in America.
“These programs at Seton Hall have benefited our residents; good for our young people who might need a little help tapping into their gifts and talents and discovering their purpose; (and) good for the community, as we introduce young people labeled as “high risk” to high rewards as productive members of society,” said Lakeesha Eure, director of the Office of Violence Prevention and trauma recovery.
Like the Summer Work Experience Program at East Orange and the Social Justice Certificate Program, Change for Good emphasizes “actionable knowledge” and seeks to empower its participants as actors. change in pursuit of equity as well as personal and community well-being.
The initial Change for Good program took place over an eight-week period, with approximately 50 residents, ages 17 to 24, from Newark, East Orange and Irvington coming to campus once a week for community/professional forums and entrepreneurship courses. , financial literacy, film and video production and social justice.
Classes were led by Yale School of Public Health activist-in-residence Angelo Pinto, founding member of Until Freedom; Samson Styles, BET-winning journalist and film producer; Two-time Emmy Award-winning Girls with Knowledge CEO Marcelle Lashley-Kabore with extensive expertise in building social impact platforms and producing experiential marketing campaigns and multimedia programming for diverse audiences; and Tiffany Williams, owner of Bellargo Piarge, a streetwear company with multi-million dollar sales, and Bellargo Consulting, a team of fashion design, production management and branding consultants who focus on the support for new entrepreneurs. The mental health care component of the program was led by Rios and Davis.
“Sometimes all people need is an opportunity to see something different and someone to believe in them,” Davis said. “Many of these children have felt more or less invisible all their lives. But not here at Seton Hall, not now.
“For the finale of the program, we brought the students together for a screening of ‘Killing Beef: Gun Violence in the Black Community,’ Samson Styles’ award-winning documentary,” she continued. “Afterwards, we had an intense discussion about social change – and I assure you it was different from the ones we had at the start of these eight weeks.”
The next cohort of Change for Good at Seton Hall began in the fall semester and is currently underway; another cohort is planned for the spring semester.