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TCNJ earns grant to fight school absenteeism

TCNJ received a $300,000 grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s All Kids Thrive Program to continue the fight against chronic school absenteeism in the region over the next five years.

According to data from 2014-15, 32 percent of Trenton Public School students were chronically absent, well above the state average of 10 percent. Chronically absent is defined as missing 10 percent or more of total enrolled school days, including suspensions and both excused and unexcused absences.

The college’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research will work with the Trenton Prevention Policy Board, The Mercer County Department of Human Services, Isles, and Millhill Child and Family Development Center to create a new program called Connect Trenton at the city’s 9th Grade Academy.

The Connect Trenton program will provide direct services to students who struggle with attendance, academics, or behavioral issues. A coordinator, who will be part of TCNJ’s CELR staff, will work with teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators to identify at-risk students, then develop a service plan in collaboration with students, their families, and school staff, to match each student with out-of-school resources.

“The award is a great opportunity to build upon the many years of partnership TCNJ’s programs have had with Trenton Public Schools,” said Michael Nordquist, executive director for the Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research. “Growing from TCNJ’s roots as a school to prepare educators, Connect Trenton will link TCNJ’s expertise and experience supporting educational opportunities for the region’s K-12 students.”

Facilitated by The College of New Jersey’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research since 2011, TPPB is part of a statewide Municipal Policy Planning Board Initiative supported by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Community Justice. TPPB brings together community stakeholders from the greater Trenton area to make and implement data-driven policy, program, and practice recommendations that promote positive youth development and prevent juvenile delinquency in the City of Trenton.

Luke Sacks