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.
“Our support of the One Square Mile program strengthens our work towards a just and equitable New Jersey,” says Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation President Tanuja Dehne. “We are proud to support organizations and initiatives focused on addressing the root cause and repair of structural racism and inequity across the state, and are eager to see the impact of this community-led initiative between Montclair State University and the City of Paterson.”
The initiative is the latest development in the growing partnership between Montclair and Paterson. Recently, Montclair alumnus and Paterson native Chuck Muth ’77 made a transformational $5 million gift that Montclair will use to become an educational partner in the creation and operation of a museum and learning center at historic Hinchliffe Stadium.
“Tier1 Recovery loves this wonderful opportunity to partner with Montclair University and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation on this amazing partnership that would continue to assess the needs of the Paterson community,” says Chosen Generation Community Corporation Chief Executive Officer Willie Moody. “Tier1 Recovery, a pillar in the 4th Ward, stands ready to assist in making the One Square Mile project a success.”
“The One Square Mile project is the perfect way to bring community members together to collaborate for a unified neighborhood,” says Paterson Alliance Executive Director Inge Spungen.
“Everyone at St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation is pleased to see the investment that is being made in our community,” says St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation Executive Director Richard Williams. “We thank the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Montclair State University for their belief in the collective impact that can be accomplished through the One Square Mile initiative. As an organization that has a longstanding commitment to the city of Paterson, its residents, and the neighborhoods encompassing the One Square Mile initiative, we firmly believe that this work will provide ‘Hope for Today’ while ‘Building a Better Tomorrow.’”
“We are appreciative of our growing partnership with Montclair State University, and cannot wait to see the solutions we can build together as part of the One Square Mile initiative,” says Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.