Rewarding success: American Dream gives out 1,500 gift cards to top students in Paterson

The holiday season was a little brighter — and will be a litte more fun — for 1,500 students at the CAPS school in Paterson.

American Dream announced Friday that it is gifting each of the 1,500 students at the College Achieve Paterson charter school a $50 American Dream attraction ticket to reward them for outstanding results on the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment, the state standardized test.

CAPS Paterson students improved at every grade level in reading, math and written expression.

Gemar Mills, the chief academic officer and executive director at CAPS Paterson, said the school was overwhelmed by the gesture.

“We are so grateful to American Dream for wanting to bring a smile to our scholars’ faces this holiday season by generously recognizing their hard work. Our scholars have proven time and again that, if you set high standards and provide a robust curriculum and resources, all students can and will rise to the top,” he said.

About CAPS

CAPS is a network of K-12 schools in Paterson, Plainfield, Asbury Park and Neptune Township that was created to serve youth who have enormous potential but limited resources. Its mission is to prepare all students to excel in, and graduate from, the top colleges and universities in the nation.

“Seeing them live up to this potential through hard work, grit and determination is one of the highlights of my professional career.”

In addition to the NJSLA scores, students at CAPS Paterson showed impressive gains in the Start Strong assessments, which students completed in the fall. Across New Jersey, the pandemic has dramatically impacted all students, with the most vulnerable students showing the steepest drops. But CAPS Paterson continued to demonstrate growth, even through the pandemic closures.

American Dream CEO Don Ghermezian said the organization was happy to award the $75,000 in gift cards to the school after it became aware of how its students bucked not just state, but national testing trends, by academically growing.

“CAPS Paterson serves students with enormous potential but limited resources,” he said. “We at American Dream wanted to say to each of the 1,500 students that we see you, we recognize your hard work and we applaud your achievements, especially coming out of a very difficult few years.”