In an effort to further address issues plaguing Latino and immigrant communities, New Jersey City University will partner with the Latino Action Network and the Latino Action Network Foundation to 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 Tuesday.
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 that is 45% Latinx and 54% first-generation. NJCU also serves the most socioeconomically diverse student population in New Jersey, with a median household annual income of its students of only $42,200.
NJCU interim President Andres Acebo said the partnership will engage leadership, faculty, staff and students in opportunities to participate in community education and advocacy toward policy change.
“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,” he said. “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.
Jesselly De La Cruz, the executive director of the Latino Action Network, said research and policy will be at the core of its work and the partnership with NJCU and will further the group’s 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,” she said. “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.”