News and Events

University Announces $1 Million Grant to Develop Paterson One Square Mile Initiative

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation support will be used to turn Eastside High School into University-assisted community school as part of comprehensive community development program

Posted in: Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships

President Koppell posing with members of the One Square Mile Project Initiative
From left: Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35); Paterson Public Schools Executive Director, Full Service Community Schools Jenna Goodreau; Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh; Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer; Montclair President Jonathan Koppell; Paterson Education Fund Executive Director Rosie Grant; Eastside High School Principal of Operations Edgard Nieves; and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Chief Executive Officer Tanuja Dehne.

Montclair State University announced at a press conference today it has received a $1 million commitment from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to develop “One Square Mile,” a comprehensive initiative designed to aid in the City of Paterson’s community development efforts.

The grant will be administered over two years and was announced at Paterson Eastside High School, which will serve as the center point of one square mile of University-coordinated efforts aimed at advancing community aspirations. The event featured elected officials, community partners and leaders from the University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the City of Paterson and Paterson Public Schools.

To begin the initiative, Montclair will work with Paterson Public Schools to transform Eastside High School into a University-assisted community school. University and community resources will be organized around student success, with Eastside serving as a community hub. In addition to normal academic offerings, it will provide services including free healthy meals, health care, academic support interventions, mental health counseling and referral services, and other tailored services before, during and after school for both students and families.

“Public universities can and should become true partners with the communities they serve,” says Montclair President Jonathan Koppell. “To do that, however, we must lay down deep roots, be active participants, and demonstrate commitment to lasting, sustainable change.

“The One Square Mile project starts with the community articulating its needs and goals, and the University then working alongside community members to achieve those objectives by drawing upon its capacity and existing efforts. It is not about a university coming in and acting like we have all the answers. We can maximize Montclair’s potential, including creating fantastic learning opportunities for students and faculty, by collaborating around a shared vision of what is possible; we have found outstanding partners in Paterson and Paterson Public Schools.”

“Through the district’s partnerships with Montclair State University and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Eastside High School will become the eleventh Full Service Community School in the district,” says Paterson Superintendent of Schools Eileen F. Shafer. “That means that Eastside students and their families will have access to health care, counseling, academic support, and many other services right at school. This not only makes these services conveniently available to students and families, but it also helps ensure our students’ success in school. When students succeed, the whole community succeeds. I want to thank everyone at Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, our cooperating agencies, and our professionals here at Paterson Public Schools who worked to make this initiative happen.”

The One Square Mile concept is a place-based approach to community revitalization within a designated square mile of a community. The model was developed by Koppell during his tenure as Dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University, with the Phoenix-area community of Maryvale serving as the partner.

After conducting listening sessions with community partners, the University was pointed to Eastside High School as the first component of One Square Mile. The goal will be to develop other initiatives over the course of the next several years to improve health, education and economic opportunity.


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