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.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lauren Craig

Courtesy of the Newark Downtown District, photographer Daniel Weintraub (@halopigg)

October means the Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival!

Featured programming, including two premium events,
to round out the weekend


Newark, NJ – September 13, 2016 – October means the Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival! Newark Arts takes pride in the fact that the Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival continues to be a free and inclusive event for its 10,000 patrons and guests, providing complimentary access to Newark's bevy of cultural institutions, diverse arts community and rich creative programming. Now in its fifteenth year, along with a complete schedule of exhibits, pop ups and more, Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival will host five featured events throughout the weekend, two of which are premium events for those stakeholders that are interested in getting more exclusive experience, at a great price.
Featured programming includes:
  • Open Doors Opening ReceptionWed. October 19, 20166 to 9 pm, Newark Museum, 49 Washington St. Newark
Let's toast to fifteen years of Open Doors! Network, sip and celebrate with fellow art enthusiasts at a cocktail reception featuring a not-to-be-missed keynote by internationally renowned cultural innovator, Monica Montgomery, in her Newark debut. A limited amount of tickets are available now for just $25! Tickets ->
  • Open Doors Public Launch Party and Vendors FairThurs. October 20, 2016, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Prudential Center Championship Plaza, Edison Pl. at Mulberry St., Newark
Join the entire Newark Arts community as we activate Prudential Center's Championship Plaza with an open-air vendor’s fair featuring gorgeous hand-crafted items, exciting live entertainment, tantalizing food trucks and so much more. The best part: it's FREE! It’s easy to see why this public launch party is one of this year's most anticipated events! Register ->
  • Open Doors Friday Night Gallery CrawlFri. October 21, 20165 to 9 pm
There's more to explore at our annual citywide Gallery Crawl! Hop from gallery to gallery via our complimentary shuttles while taking in everything from paintings to poetry. With over 40 venues under the Open Doors umbrella, get ready to experience amazing entertainment, lively conversation and free fun for all alongside Newark’s Creative Class. Free transportation with RSVP.
Register ->
  • Murals and Martinis™: An Open Doors Public Art TourSat. October 22, 2016, 11 am to 3 pm
Take a shuttle bus ride with a decidedly downtown vibe and explore the city Newark Arts-style! This two-hour guided mural tour, including the longest mural on the East Coast and a performance by Storyboard P at the Newark Allery, ends with an after party at Redd's Biergarten featuring complimentary light bites, special drink offers and a round on the house. All for just $35! Grab your ticket before they go!
Tickets ->
  • Open Doors Sunday Open Studio TourSun. October 23, 2016, 11 am to 4 pm
It's an insider's guide to all of Newark Arts! Gain exclusive access to over 100 private artists' studios and experience art-in-action during this FREE Open Studio Tour. Visitors from near and far can take a look behind the scenes of local artistry while connecting with both emerging and established creatives in the Newark community. Free transportation with RSVP.
Register ->

As always, Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival will provide stellar free programming, installations and sites throughout the weekend including Thursday evening’s exciting Open Doors Public Launch Party at Prudential Center’s Championship Plaza, an Animodules exhibit at PSE&G Plaza and the mile-long Gateways to Newark mural on McCarter Highway. Ready to experience it all? Sign up for your free All-Festival Pass!
  • Open Doors All-Festival Pass
Hundreds of artists, twenty countries, forty-five tours and exhibits, fifty special events, over one hundred open studios, and ONE GREAT CITY! The Open Doors All-Festival Pass is your complimentary passport to the very best of Newark Arts. Register for your FREE pass and experience an entire weekend of programming including installations, performances, exhibits and tours showcasing Newark's diverse, rich and bustling artistic community. (The Open Doors All-Festival Pass does NOT provide access to the Open Doors Opening Reception or Murals and Martinis™)
Register ->
Don’t miss the most exciting Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival yet!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Newark Youth Court Joins Forces with Newark Youth Ambassadors to Illustrate Unity

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Newark Municipal Council Chambers was the warmest place to be last night and not because of the heat wave.  The Newark Youth Court and the Mayor’s Newark Youth Ambassadors joined forces to help the Newark African Commission honor renowned sociologist Dr. LaFrancis Roger-Rose at their “Unity Forum” event. There were several dignitaries in attendance, including Council President Mildred C. Crump and Kate Ihuoma –Igbodike, Consul to the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York.

Zoe Nicole Copeland and Genique Turner of the Newark Youth Court and Diamond Golson of the Newark Youth Ambassadors read a poem together titled Prayer to Masks by celebrated Senegalese statesman and poet Leopold Sédar Senghor. They were warmly greeted by cheers from the audience who showed their delight by applauding at several points during the reading. The Forum also featured a panel discussion on cultural identity titled Are We All Africans?  NCS Program Coordinator, Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, also a member of the Newark African Commission, helped coordinate the event and was joined by Newark Youth Court Case Developer Basimah Caldwell.  NCS Re-Entry Case Manager, Latania Cobb and Alternative Sanctions intern Nicauris Hernandez, provided moral support with cheers from the audience.  All in all, the whole process was an inspiring illustration of the positive impact of effective collaboration and teamwork.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lincoln Park Music Festival 2016

Special thanks to Sr. Clinical Specialist Tonya Tucker for getting us together!

Monday, June 6, 2016

from the Director's desk:

NADCP Conference in Anaheim, CA

The 2016 National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference brought together more than 5,000 treatment court professionals from across the United States to discuss addiction, mental health, recovery and criminal justice reform.  This year I was honored to moderate a panel titled, Meeting the Need: Innovative Methods for Working with Court Involved Mental Health Consumers.  The panel featured Newark Municipal Court Chief Judge Victoria Pratt and the Hon. Judge Verna Leath from the Essex County Superior Court, Criminal Division.  As both Judges preside over alternative sentencing programs, Newark Community Solutions at the municipal level and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Mental Health Diversion Program at the superior court level, they are uniquely positioned to impact this vulnerable and often underserved population.  Highlights of the discussion included the importance of clear communication with both court staff and participants, setting realistic goals and expectations and the value of a positive courtroom culture with the tone set from the bench.  

Thank you to Judge Pratt and Judge Leath for the amazing work you do and for sharing your wisdom with the conference crowd. It was a wonderful experience and a truly inspiring event.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Spring Adopt-A-Lot highlights

Ujimaa Garden & Hope Garden

Special thanks to community gardener and longtime NCS partner Ms. Nicole Singletary for sharing her beautiful gardens with us!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Newark Community Solutions

Community Advisory Board 

Spring Meeting

Newark Community Solutions held its first Advisory Board meeting of the year at the Newark Municipal Court on Thursday, April 21. Community members, social service providers, educators, law enforcement, court staff, and legal partners attended the meeting. Municipal Court Director James Simpson welcomed the attendees and Chief Judge Victoria F. Pratt followed with opening remarks. Project Director Kelly Mulligan-Brown kicked off the meeting by providing newcomers with an overview of Newark Community Solutions and highlighted the importance of the program’s partnerships with the Newark Municipal Court and City of Newark. Newark Community Solutions staff then presented on their work with the Community Court, Newark Youth Court, and Newark United Against Violence. 

Stay tuned for details for the next meeting at the and of the summer!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Community Justice 2016 International Summit

The Center for Court Innovation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, hosted the Community Justice 2016 International Summit in Chicago from April 13 to April 15, 2016. 
The conference convened an international audience of practitioners and researchers, who explored some of today's most pressing issues and promising ideas in criminal justice reform. Topics included community engagement, jail reduction, risk/needs assessments, substance use and mental disorders, procedural justice and legitimacy, restorative justice, and young adult justice. 
Newark was well represented by Municipal Court Chief Judge Victoria Pratt who kicked off day two of the conference with an engaging presentation detailing the importance of procedural justice, the idea that how defendants feel about the justice system is tied more to their perception of fairness about the process and how they were treated rather than the outcome of their case.  Judge Pratt emphasized how this "simple idea" can revolutionize the way the judicial system relates to the public it serves by employing basic principles of dignity and respect. Later in the day, NCS Project Director Kelly Mulligan-Brown moderated a panel titled, Activating Public Space: Creative Approaches to Community Service.  The panel highlighted creative community service programming in Dallas, TX, Hartford, CT and Brownsville, NY.

For more information, including a full conference agenda and more event photos, please see the CCI event page: