Tuesday, March 13, 2018

 Celebrity Reads 2018

On a bright winter morning in February, Newark Community Solutions staff and interns participated in one of the most vital and frankly the most delightful community events of the year.   Celebrity Reads is a literacy initiative created by the United Way of West Essex close to 30 years ago with the goal of recruiting local volunteers to model their love of reading to pre-k and elementary school kids.  The initiative runs over several weeks in multiple school but on this day NCS was at Hawkins Street Elementary School where the festivities kicked off in – where else – the library!
After introductions and breakfast, the “celebrity readers” selected books with some guidance from the school librarian, Mrs. Jones. Before the reading began the school’s cheer squad and dance troupe performed followed by a recitation of poems, one of which was shared line-by-line by a fantastic group of third graders.  Readers then made their way to selected classrooms escorted by young volunteers who made sure to point out all the amazing art projects mounted on the school’s walls along the way.  
Each volunteer read to two classrooms spending about an hour with each class. The kids were enthusiastic and asked lots of questions keeping readers on their toes. It was an amazing day enjoyed by the kids (and just as much if not more by the grownups). We are already looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Lights, camera, ACTION!!

Newark Youth Court members and staff prepare for the filming of a mock trial with the crew from PBS NewsHour.  Stay tuned for more details including the upcoming air date!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again!!!

This past Saturday, in collaboration with New Hope Baptist Church and the Newark YMCA, Newark Community Solutions held its 7th Annual Holiday Gift Drive Wrap Party.  Staff, volunteers and Newark Youth Court members spent the morning setting up the New Hope “toy store”, hanging decorations, organizing crafts and, of course, wrapping gifts.  The afternoon was a flurry of kids, families, candy cane reindeer, balloon animals and even a visit from Superman in a Santa hat! Over 150 kids received toys and gifts through this collaborative effort and NCS was thrilled to be a part of it.

Special thanks to Alycia Green from New Hope Baptist Church and all our amazing volunteers.

Happy Holidays from Newark Community Solutions!!!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

New TED Talk on Procedural Justice
A new TED Talk, How Judges Can Show Respect, details the promise and principles of procedural justice and how recognizing the humanity of every defendant can transform lives and the practice of justice. This video highlights Judge Victoria Pratt's work and experience at the Center for Court Innovation's Newark Community Solutions. Click here to watch. 

Friday, November 3, 2017


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Newark Youth Court staff and members, joined by Newark Community Solutions staff, held a community Halloween party at the NCS community office in Newark's South Ward.  Neighborhood kids in costume streamed in through the late afternoon and early evening to collect candy and work on spooktacular arts and crafts.  A few young people even picked up youth court applications for the next enrollment period!  
Thanks to Victim Services Coordinator Tonya Tucker and 
Youth Court Coordinator Jasmine Harden for organizing! 


Monday, October 16, 2017


Supporting Our New Jersey Veterans
Newark Community Solutions was proud to once again participant in the annual Stand Down of North Jersey providing support and services to homeless veterans including flu shots, HIV  testing, benefits assistance, employment programs, legal services, clothing donations and evens haircuts.  Newark Community Solutions staff and interns spoke with veterans in attendance about clearing up open municipal matters in Newark as well as other court based social services.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Center for Court Innovation 
Photo of the Week for 10/9/17

Ironbound Community Corporation’s LaQuan Thomas introduces one of the inhabitants of the Ironbound garden to Newark Community Solutions’ Lamar Mitchell. Lamar is the community service site supervisor for our Newark program, which provides alternative sentencing options for Newark Municipal Court. Once a week in summer and early fall, program participants can complete their community service mandates at the garden, picking fruits and vegetables for distribution to community members in need (participants go home with a bag of produce as well).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Image result for newark open doors logo

Newark Community Solutions and the Newark Youth Court 
hosting 2nd Open Doors Art Exhibit
Reception: Friday, October 13th
Newark Municipal Courthouse, 31 Green Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Newark Community Solutions is hosting its second annual community justice themed art exhibit titled Visions of Community Justice on Friday, October 13th in the Newark Municipal Courthouse at 31 Green Street, Newark.  Part of the four day long Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival, the exhibit is one of dozens connected across the city.  For the second year in a row, NCS and the Newark Youth Court collaborated to create a “pop-up” art exhibition in the halls of the Newark Municipal Court. Community Justice works to engage community members to create and maintain healthy and safe neighborhoods by confronting, reducing and preventing crime while addressing its impact at the community level.  The exhibit is aligned with the values of the Newark Youth Court, a youth led program providing alternatives to traditional consequences, including community service and skill-building workshops, for school based and juvenile justice infractions.  Youth of the city of Newark have the opportunity to be diverted from traditional discipline, including suspensions, expulsions, truancy court or arrest, while gaining a connection to their peers and their community.

This past summer, Youth Court members and respondents worked with local artist Malik Whitaker to create art that’s reflective of their mission and how it resonates with participants and within the greater community.  Visions of Community Justice will highlight the artwork created by our Youth Court members and Youth Court respondents as well as local artists who answered an open call for submissions.  The Youth Court’s art (paintings, drawings, photographs and collages) will be the final product of an initiative funded by the Newark Arts Council’s ArtStart grant. 

Last year’s exhibit had a great turnout and inspired the creation of an Arts Committee which has worked to enhance the Newark Municipal Court space with art year-round. We look forward to seeing you at the exhibit!

WHEN: The evening of Friday, October 13th, from 6:00pm-8:00pm. 
WHERE: The lobby of the Newark Municipal Courthouse, 31 Green Street, Newark, NJ 07102

 the evening of Friday, October 13th, from 6:00pm-8:00pm.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

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Last week NCS hosted its second writers workshop performance titled Moments at Clement's Place on the campus of Rutgers University. This class included participants from a local treatment program, Integrity House, as well as the Delaney Hall Detention Facility. Participants wrote their one act plays with guidance from our amazing "playwright in residence" Jeremy Camps. Their plays were then performed by actors on stage in front of an audience of family, friends and colleagues. There was a lot of talent on display and in a Q&A after the performance, the writes got a chance to talk about the experiences that inspired their writing. This is easily one of the most fascinating and inspiring events we take part in.  Big thanks to NCS Clinical Director Colleen Smith who makes it all happen!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Newark Community Solutions Victims Services (NCS-VS) 
Opens it's Doors in the South Ward
   Victim Services Coordinator Tonya Tucker and Peer Mentor Lorenzo Nash outside the Hawthorne Ave office

Overview: Community violence comes in many different forms. And with every instance of violence there are one or more victims left to deal with the consequences.  Oftentimes, these individuals experience mental health symptoms, including post-traumatic stress, in addition to any sustained physical injuries.  These “invisible” symptoms can remain long after physical wounds have healed.   The goal of NCS-VS is to meet victims “where they are” and provide holistic support which will not only ease immediate grief and suffering, but provide also a foundation of support in an effort to end the cycle of violence.  
Participants: The target population for this initiative is young men and women of color, ages 18-30, who have been exposed to violence or are themselves the victim of a violent crime. 
The Process: Once an individual is referred to the program, they will complete an intake which will be used to create an individualized service plan based on the client’s needs and goals. The service plan can include a combination of on-site case management, social services referrals, and individual or group counseling.  NCS-VS utilizes the S.E.L.F. psycho-educational group curriculum, an evidence-supported and trauma-informed approach to working with victims. Staff will also work with community volunteers to offer skill -building workshops in areas including parenting, employment, and wellness. Direct linkages with community-based programs will be made for clients needing a higher level of care for substance abuse, mental health, and co-occurring disorders.
Are you interested or know someone who could benefit from services?  
Please stop by, call or send us an email  
 Newark Community Solutions Victims Services (NCS-VS)
223 Hawthorne Ave., first floor Newark, NJ
phone: 833-434-0881

Friday, September 1, 2017

Community Service in Action!!
Alternative Sanctions Specialist Trevor Powell oversees community service at the 8th St garden

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lincoln Park Music Festival

Attracting over 50,000 visitors yearly, the Lincoln Park Music Festival (LPMF) – A Celebration of Spirit and Dance -  is a cultural ambassador and signature event in the City of Newark. LPMF is part of the economic development activities led by Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD) in Newark, New Jersey’s historic Lincoln Park section.  

Newark Community Solutions and Newark Youth Court staff and interns table at the event every year to provide the public with information about our programs, meet and mingle with other local organizations and, of course, enjoy the music! Thanks to NCS Victims Services Coordinator Tonya Tucker for organizing and to everyone who contributed to making this a great day!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Community Service in Action!!

Newark Youth Court members getting to work at the Rabbit Hole Farm!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

Exciting New Partnerships - Whole Foods in Newark!

There was a buzz in the air the morning of Wednesday, March 1st as the highly anticipated Newark Whole Foods was set to open to the public!  Early that morning a large crowd assembled in the atrium of the Hahne and Company building to hear remarks from Whole Foods President Christina Minardi, Whole Cities Foundation Executive Director Meredith Smith, and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. As part of the festivities, Whole Cities Foundation, a non-profit arm of Whole Foods, announced the winners of the 2017 Newark Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant, and Newark Community Solutions was thrilled to be named one of 11 Newark recipients!  NCS’s winning plan will bring together staff, program participants and an intern from Rutgers -Newark to rejuvenate the NCS garden, part of the City of Newark’s Adopt-A-Lot Network.  Once the garden is thriving, all fruit, vegetables and herbs will be donated to the New Hope Baptist soup kitchen to complete the community service cycle of growing, harvesting, cooking and serving food to Newarkers in need.

Committed to growing the local food system and increasing access to fresh, healthy food in Newark, Newark Community Solutions is especially excited to partner with the Whole Cities Foundation and New Hope Baptist Church to begin our work providing new opportunities to members of the community.

To learn more about the ceremony, find Brick City Live’s article recapping the morning, here.

Winners of the  2017 Newark Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant -
accepting for NCS was Planner, Jordan Otis (4th from left)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Congressman Payne Visits Newark Community Solutions

This past Tuesday Newark Community Solutions was honored to host Congressman Donald Payne Jr. and his staff.  The Congressman observed court and then took time to speak with both Newark Municipal Court and Newark Community Solutions staff in the courtroom as well as program participants in the NCS clinic.  The Congressman said he was proud to see all Newark Community Solutions has accomplished since his time serving as Newark City Council President during the program’s planning and launch in 2011.  Again we thank the Congressman and his staff for their time and commitment to criminal justice reform in the City of Newark, and we look forward to continued collaboration throughout the year. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Newark Community Solutions
2016 Holiday Gift Drive                  

On a cold and snowy Saturday the feeling was warm and cheery at the Newark Community Solutions Sixth Annual Holiday Gift Drive "Wrap Party." This year our drive supported the Angel Tree Network, a program that facilitates holiday season gift donations to children with at least one incarcerated parent, as well as the Newark YMCA and New Hope Baptist Church. Gifts were donated by Newark City employees as well as local organizations including the GI Go Fund, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and Sigma Phi Rho Fraternity Inc. Despite the weather, volunteers made it to Newark City Hall to wrap and package gifts, and Newark Youth Court members invited all kids in attendance to their arts and crafts station where there made festive ornaments including the famous candy cane reindeer!

Special Thanks to Mallery Rosado from StyleSnaps PhotoBooth LLC for providing free holidays pics to all families in attendance and thanks again to all our wonderful volunteers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

From the desk of Colleen Smith
NCS Clinical Coordinator


Over a year ago, NCS was approached by a playwright, Jeremy Kamps, who made us a remarkable offer.  He wanted to facilitate a writing workshop for participants during which he would guide the group to write short plays about their own lives. The workshop would culminate in a live performance of the plays by professional actors in a local theatrical space.  After months of planning the workshop got underway earlier this year with five residents of Newark’s Integrity House.  Then on Monday 12/12 at Newark’s Clement’s Place the group’s hard work payed off with a brilliant performance titled, Moments: A Festival of Ten Minute Plays.

The performance included five plays brought to live by incredibly talented professional actors who all donated their time to the casue.  Each play drew from the lived experiences of the writers, tackling difficult topics while maintaining moments of levity and humor.  But perhaps the greatest moment of the evening came at the end, when each writer spoke about his experience in the workshop.  They spoke of seeing their work played out in front of them, the challenges of writing about life events, and the power of telling their stories.  

As Jeremy said, “art brings communities together” and I am so grateful that we were all able to come together that evening.  I’d like to send a big thank you to the staff at Clement’s Place for hosting us in their beautiful space, Jeremy Kamps for facilitating the workshop and donating his time, the actors for bringing the plays to life, and most importantly, to our writers for sharing their stories with us.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Spirit of Giving

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Newark Community Solutions along with the Newark Youth Court staff and members prepared and packed food for the 2016 “Share the Harvest” event hosted by PACTION Newark at the Clinton Memorial AMEZ Church. PACTION Newark is a consortium formed in fall of 2015 to facilitate collaboration and sharing between NGOs, faith based organizations and community organizers with the goal of serving the homeless, local youth and other vulnerable residents of Newark and the Greater Newark area. The two day event brought in volunteers from organizations and businesses all determined to help provide warm meals for the holiday. Last year PACTION Newark served and delivered 3,541 meals to the community and we hoped to surpass that this year!

Newark Community Solutions and Newark Youth Court are so proud to take part in an event that truly embodies the spirit of the season.  

From our family to yours – HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Art through Social Consciousness: 
Visions of Community Justice

Last Friday Newark Community Solutions and the Newark Municipal Court collaborated on one of the coolest events I have been a part of since I started working with the program.  But first a little background - several months ago with the blessing of Chief Judge Pratt and the Mayor Baraka, NCS applied to have the Newark Municipal Courthouse be a part of the Newark Art’s Council’s Open Doors City Arts Festival.  Once the application was accepted, a joint NCS – Municipal Court Arts committee was formed to undertake the task of turning a portion of the courthouse into a gallery that would be open to the public over a three day “Arts Crawl.” The committee came up with the theme of Art through Social Consciousness: Visions of Community Justice and put out an open call to local artists. In addition to art submitted by the community and local professional artists, some in-house talent got a chance to shine.  As someone with zero ability in this area I was blown away!

Then finally on the evening of Friday 10/21 the Newark Municipal Court gallery opened its doors!  Guests were greeted with event information (and sparkling cider) by Newark Youth Court members and then made their way down the first floor corridor now covered with paintings, collages, drawing and photography.  A highlight of the evening for me was meeting Vincent A. Johnson Jr.  Vincent is 14 years old and submitted beautiful pictures he took in Newark's Branch Brook Park.  It was inspiring to hear him talk about how he got started and I’m so glad this event gave him the opportunity to share his art with the public.  Pictures (including Vincent’s work) are below but they don't do the art justice (pun intended) so please come down to the Newark Municipal Court to see for yourself!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Community Service in Action

 At the Down Bottom Farm, located at 371-395 Ferry Street in Newark’s east ward, Newark Community Solutions participants assisted the Farmer's Market Coordinator, Alexis Trujillo, and her staff with a number of tasks to prepare the farm for an upcoming Halloween event.

Supervised by NCS Community Service Site Supervisor Trevor Powell, participants cleaned the farm free of all trash then picked green and red peppers, habanero peppers, squash, and eggplants.  Any veggies past their prime were tossed into the compost bins to eventually become fertilizer for the raised flower beds. 

In addition to prep work and picking vegetables, NCS participants placed pumpkins all throughout the large flower bed at the rear of the farm, made wooden scarecrows, and hung corn stalks on the raised flower bed posts inside the garden and along the perimeter. By the end of the day the farm looked great and was ready for the event.  Take a look at some prep pics as well as pictures from the event.                  

Monday, October 10, 2016

GI Go Fund 2016 Northern New Jersey Stand Down for Homeless Veterans

Newark Community Solutions was proud to once again participant in this annual event providing support and services to local veterans including flu shots, HIV testing, benefits assistance, employment programs, legal services, clothing donations and evens haircuts on site!  As always NCS spoke with veterans in attendance about clearing up open municipal matters in Newark as well as other court based social services.

Below is a link with more details about the event and some photos from the day.