ICYMI: Leaders Come Together to Rectify a 20-Year Old Failed Promise to Newark Residents

A State-of-the-art Early Learning Center Now Occupies the Site of the Abandoned Project

Just recently, families, community leaders and public officials celebrated the grand opening of a state-of-the-art early learning center, providing education and care to 198 children from birth to age 5, in the Upper Clinton Hill neighborhood in Newark’s South Ward. 

However, the site of this facility, 30 Demarest Avenue, has a troubling past. 

As noted in a 2005 NYTimes article, this area was designated for a once-promised brand, new University High School. As a result of that designation, and the eminent domain policy that existed at that time, the land was flattened, and residents were displaced. Adding insult to injury, the high school was never built, the area was abandoned and unsafe–leaving residents frustrated. However, in 2018, a new promise to the Clinton Hill neighborhood came to fruition. In a massive effort that included a collaboration between community leaders, the Maher Charitable Foundation and full support from Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the area has been salvaged and turned into a modern, innovative hub for the community’s tiniest learners.

Clinton Hill Early Learning Center from PCK Media on Vimeo.

Speakers at the grand-opening event underscored how this new investment in the Clinton Hill community aligns with their shared commitment to ensuring that every child in Newark gets off to a safe and healthy start in life and that long-time residents of Newark benefit from renewed interest in the city.

 Mayor Ras J. Baraka, had this to say:

“I am proud to see such a modern, beautifully designed facility built in the heart of the Clinton Hill community. This center represents a course correction on a failed promise made decades ago. It represents the effectiveness of collaboration between the community, the Maher Charitable Foundation, Newark City Hall and so many others. And it serves as another testament to the incredible resilience of our City. This early learning center will have an integral role in shaping the minds of our youngest Newark residents, in a caring, safe and creative environment that they deserve. My administration will continue to provide any support needed to ensure the success of this center in the years to come and encourage similar meaningful initiatives to come forth and help move Newark forward.”

The center was designed in collaboration with two experienced early childhood providers, La Casa de Don Pedro, the city’s largest community-based early childhood provider, and Clinton Hill Community & Early Childhood Center (CHCECC), which has operated a high quality early childhood program in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.  Maher Charitable Foundation constructed the center with a nearly $20 million investment. 

M. Brian Maher, Chairman of the Maher Charitable Foundation, paid homage to the community for their their unwavering push to restore their neighborhood:

“We at Maher Charitable Foundation are honored to join together with local community leaders to rectify a failed promise from over 20 years ago. Together, we believed that this center could serve as the physical cornerstone of the neighborhood revitalization program being pursued by Clinton Hill Community Action and others. This facility provides a beautiful, comfortable, and safe place for children to receive quality care and to play and learn. This facility should serve as a model across the state and across the country. I would encourage corporations, foundations and others who have the means to invest in local communities like Clinton Hill to seek out opportunities to do so.”

The new building enables CHECC to expand its PreK services – serving an additional 45 children and moving all 150 children out of temporary classroom units.  It also enables La Casa de Don Pedro to provide much-needed care and education to 48 children from birth to age 3 in the neighborhood. Clinton Hill Community Action, the nonprofit community development organization working to revitalize the neighborhood, will manage the facility and lead the broader effort to showcase the new center as a model for NJ’s expansion of high quality early childhood education.

Longtime resident and now Executive Director of the Clinton Hill Community Early Childhood Center, DeNiqua Matias, focused on the community impact during her remarks: 

“This building is a dream come true. We are now, for the first time, able to serve children and families in a building designed especially for their education and care.  It makes a difference for the children, their families, the teachers and the entire community.”  

The center was designed by Rich Alderiso of DI Architecture Group and built by Donnelly Construction and features:

• 40,000 square feet of learning space 

• 16 classrooms filled with natural light 

• Inner courtyard play area 

• Multipurpose room with 200-person capacity available for community use 

• Family Childcare Hub & Resource Room 

• Commercial kitchen with state of the art equipment

For more information, all media inquiries can be directed to Samantha Gordon, [email protected]

About the Maher Charitable Foundation

Since 2009, the Maher Charitable Foundation has invested in high quality early childhood programs, and advocacy for making those programs more widely accessible, affordable to families, and of higher quality.  In addition to helping to design and underwrite the Pre-K Our Way advocacy initiative that resulted in expansion of New Jersey’s high-quality pre-K to 180 school districts, the Maher Charitable Foundation has funded the expansion and construction of three state-of-the art buildings to provide child care, Early Head Start and pre-K to children birth to age 5 in Newark and Passaic.  The mission of this NJ-based, family foundation is to improve vulnerable children’s life chances by increasing their opportunities to access high quality early childhood education. 

About Clinton Hill Community Action

Clinton Hill Community Action is a community development organization to work with residents and stakeholders to revitalize the neighborhood and improve the quality of life for Newark residents in the Clinton Hill area. The organization takes their cues from residents in setting priorities, understanding the issues, and working together toward solutions. Their mission is to partner with residents to revitalize the Clinton Hill neighborhood, ensure that development is equitable and just, and advocate for what the community needs and deserves.

Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson Gives Invocation for New York State of the State Address

Albany, NY (Tuesday, January 10, 2023) – Today, Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Senior Pastor of the largest Black church in Westchester ...
Read More

Michelle Obama’s New Book, “The Light We Carry”

The former first lady’s memoir delves into the Trump presidency and Sasha Obama’s martinis. Michelle Obama’s second memoir The Light We ...
Read More

Bishop Eatman’s 41st Pastoral Anniversary

The congregation of Mt. Pleasant Community Baptist Church in Harlem gathered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture ...
Read More

Lena Horne first black actress to have Broadway theatre in her name

The theatre, on West 47th Street, was built in 1926 and is currently hosting the hit British musical Six. It ...
Read More

Witnessing Faith; The Photography of Bob Gore

I first experienced the Black church from the front row of Chicago’s Mount Hermon Missionary Baptist Church, where my grandfather ...
Read More

Momentous Happenings at Monumental

For 196 years, Monumental Baptist Church in Philadelphia PA has served its faith community. On Sunday, November 13, 2022, the ...
Read More

AACEO First Friday Breakfast

The monthly meeting of the African American Clergy and Elected Officials (AACEO) held at Antioch Baptist Church brings together community ...
Read More

Newark Forward With Faith

The Newark Interfaith Alliance, the Mayor’s Office of Clergy Affairs, and the Newark Municipal Council held the Ninth Annual Newark ...
Read More

Omega Psi Phi’s Achievement Week Celebration

The Eta Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. welcomed National Urban League President Marc Morial and First Corinthian ...

Partnerships are Critical to Addressing Academic and Opportunity Gaps

By Michael G. Johnson, President and CEO, Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) Fair and equitable opportunity for a solid academic ...

HBCU Student Exceeds $6K GoFundMe Goal To Continue Her Studies After Kyrie Irving Donates $22K

Kyrie Irving has made a significant donation that will help a Howard University student continue her studies. Destiny Thompson, a sophomore civil ...

Black Joy

By Fern Gillespie For 35 years, a Black couple in East Orange has been bringing Black joy to millions of ...

Jackson State University; More than its Football Team

On Saturday night, Deion Sanders announced he was leaving Jackson State University after three years to become the head football ...

Black Joy

SUGGESTED READING LIST Because Claudette by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Tonya EngelWhen 15-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a segregated bus on ...

Mission Not Impossible

We often think it impossible to live whole, productive lives–living well in all aspects: spirit, ...

The General Baptist Convention of NJ Honors Our Veterans

Deeply felt gratitude, pride, and honor for their service took place at Mount Calvary Missionary ...

5 ways to enjoy holiday eating with GERD

You don’t have to miss out on delicious holiday food–you just need to know how ...

10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Don’t neglect your mental health. When we talk about being healthy, it is typically just ...

Women Working Through Housing Instability, Other Challenges

By Genoa Barrow, Word in Black | The AFRO When Shanitra Brown walks across the ...

Inspired by Dick Gregory, This D.C. Vegan is Still Teaching a Healthy Diet By Any Greens Necessary

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National [email protected] Dubbed a “Food Hero” by Vegetarian ...

Invest Newark receives award for excellence in economic development from the International Economic Development Council

Invest Newark, the city of Newark’s Economic Development Corporation, has received the Excellence in Economic ...

Black Businesses Mean Business reSURGEnce2023

A coalition of clergy, business, and community leaders came together at Brooklyn Navy Yard for ...

Bed-Stuy Winter Wonderland

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District (BID) hosted its annual ...

The Gift That Keeps Giving for Your Child This Holiday Season

Financial education is crucial to long-term success – and that education begins at an early ...

I’VE GOT NOTHIN’ BUT LOVE FOR YOU, AND THAT’S FINE

BY R.L. WITTER Seeing gas prices drop has been a blessing. It’s not just the ...

A Safer New York

While I was on the campaign trail, I met many New Yorkers who expressed their ...