JERSEY CITY, N.J.–Andrés Acebo
In an effort to address issues plaguing Latino and immigrant communities,New Jersey City University (NJCU) has announced a partnership agreement with the Latino Action Network and the Latino Action Network Foundation which will focus on the development of community education, civic engagement, and research initiatives on educational equity and health care access policies. The partnership was announced at the university’s Board of Trustees meeting on June 26.
NJCU is the oldest minority and Hispanic-serving public university in the state, educating thousands of first-generation students annually, with latest data determining the university has an undergraduate population which is 45% Latinx and 54% first generation. NJCU serves the most socioeconomically diverse student population in New Jersey, with a median household annual income of its students of only $42,200.
The partnership will engage leadership, faculty, staff and students in opportunities to participate in community education and advocacy toward policy change. The University will host an official signing ceremony at a future date.
NJCU Interim President Andrés Acebo said: “I am truly excited about this partnership and its potential to empower and uplift our historically underserved and marginalized communities. This partnership is in direct alignment with the mission of our university and its undeniably vital mission of life-changing upward economic and social mobility and empowerment through education, most notably for our socioeconomically diverse Jersey City and Hudson County communities. NJCU is in the business of transforming lives for the better, and I am grateful to the Latino Action Network and the LAN Foundation for choosing our university and our faculty, staff, and students to be their partner in this important work. In the last five months, our university has led by building unprecedented engagement and collaborations with stakeholders throughout the NJCU community, and this partnership will enable us to work together to address the pressing challenges faced by all our communities.”
The joint agreement will address six key issues, including: the impact of school segregation; affordable access to higher education, civic engagement and impact of political participation by Latino communities; workforce development in areas of education and health care, including mental health care; providing internship and fellowship opportunities for students and faculty to support research initiatives in areas of education, health care and civic engagement; and development and integration of curriculum that work to address equity issues in education, health care, and civic engagement into NJCU academic programs.
The partnership with NJCU is in alignment with the three-year strategic plan (2022-25) launched by LAN and the LAN Foundation in 2022 whereas its primary collaborative goal was to build academic partnerships with primarily Hispanic-serving institutions such as NJCU that could further develop research and policy work.
Dr. Jesselly De La Cruz, LCSW, DSW, the Executive Director of the Latino Action Network, said: “Research and policy are at the core of our work and the partnership with NJCU will further our efforts to craft public policies that serve our diverse Latino communities and the working poor in general. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and administrators at the university on addressing a broad range of issues including education, health care, and civic engagement. We are stronger as a community when we come together to address mutual concerns. NJCU is a valued member of our community serving its educational needs for generations.”
Javier Robles, President of the Latino Action Network, added: “The LAN is excited to partner with New Jersey City University to increase opportunities for students of color. NJCU is unique in that it is a Hispanic-serving institution that is also Latino-led. Supporting Latinx students is a priority for LAN and we will continue to support schools that support our students, faculty, and staff.”
Founded in 2009, Latino Action Network (LAN) is a 501(c)4 membership organization made up of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state, and national levels to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of society in the United States.
In January 2022, the LAN Foundation collaborated with several NJCU faculty and staff across multiple disciplines, including Dr. Cona Lagos (World Languages and Cultures and co-director of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies), Dr. Jennifer Musial (Women’s and Gender Studies), Dr. Virginia Ochoa-Winemiller (Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies), Dr. Jennifer Pax (Sociology and Director of the Social Work program), Dr. Louise Stanton (Political Science), and Christopher Cofone (Career Planning and Placement).
This collaboration led to class presentations, networking opportunities and career counseling for students, paid internships and job recruitment, and LANF support of NJCU obtaining accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education for its BSW program.
Most recently during the Fall 2022 semester, LANF first began informal collaborations with faculty and student projects at NJCU including the participation of executive director Dr. De La Cruz’s in an oral history project on LGBTQIA+ representation in Hudson County being completed by the Gender Studies Department under Dr. Musial.
About the Latino Action Network (LAN)
Founded in 2009, Latino Action Network (LAN) is a 501(c)4 membership organization made up of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state, and national levels to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of society in the United States. The organization was founded by a group of Latino leaders as a response to growing attacks on the Latino community, particularly on immigrants. The organization advocates on many issues of importance to the Latino community, including Affordable Housing, Criminal Justice Reform, Education, Healthcare, Civil Rights, and Voting Rights.
In 2012 LAN created the Latino Action Network Foundation (LANF) a 501c3 nonprofit organization to reinforce LAN’s mission through service programs and to enable fundraising for services programs representative of LAN’s mission. TheLatino Action Network Foundation was established with the goal of unifying and advancing the economic and social empowerment of New Jersey’s Latinos Diverse Communities through collective action and collaboration. LANF is organized to research the issues impacting the Latino communities in New Jersey, develop policy proposals to address those issues and conduct outreach among Latino communities throughout New Jersey, including lower-income and immigrant communities. The Foundation is deeply committed to a just society for everyone and opposes all forms of discrimination including those based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, disability, or sexual orientation.
New Jersey City University is an institution of higher learning dedicated to the development of our students, our city, our communities, and our state. We are a game-changing force for our students and have been recognized as one of the top colleges in the nation improving their upward economic mobility. Whether enrolled in one of our undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs at our three locations, NJCU students have access to an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty. This prepares them to go on to become the next generation of workers and leaders who improve their communities and the State of New Jersey.