Known as Smart Students Choose New Jersey, the pilot program will reward the highest academically ranked graduating senior at each of Newark’s 33 public, private and charter high schools and Camden’s 11 public, private and charter high schools who choose to attend a New Jersey college or university.
The program was launched on January 5 at the headquarters of its Newark lead corporate sponsor, Audible, Inc. A subsidiary of Amazon.com, Audible is the world’s largest producer and seller of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word content.
Commenting on the new Choose New Jersey program, Governor Chris Christie said, “We have phenomenal colleges and universities in New Jersey, industries poised for growth and businesses ready to hire. This program will encourage [the] smartest students to stay in New Jersey for their education, and to start their careers and their families here.”
“It will bolster the connection our young people feel with the State they call home and help keep their talents in New Jersey, rather than helping to strengthen business communities elsewhere,” Governor Christie added.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said, “Access to top talent is critical to our businesses and the economic vitality of the City of Newark.”
“The Smart Students program is a win/win for our City,” Mayor Baraka said. “It will give Newark’s high achieving students the opportunity to build successful careers close to home, and will help ensure our companies have access to top talent in the future. I commend Choose New Jersey and the supporters of the Smart Students program for investing in the City of Newark and tomorrow’s leaders.”
According to Christopher D. Cerf, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, “The Choose New Jersey scholarship program will support our efforts to create improved college and career opportunities for Newark’s future leaders and innovators.”
Cerf continued, “The internship placement program will encourage our young people to attend a New Jersey College or University, opening doors to meaningful careers that will help strengthen our communities and keep our best and brightest right here in the Garden State.”
Camden Mayor Dana Redd said, “The Smart Students Program is a wonderful opportunity for our Camden youth to be rewarded for their academic achievement all while working for a top New Jersey business.”
“It’s an added incentive for our students to achieve academically, Mayor Redd said. “The program also enables our businesses to retain the best local talent. Our young people can gain valuable work experience and obtain a quality career. I commend Choose New Jersey and all the partners that have helped bring about this initiative.”
Paymon Rouhanifard, Superintendent of the Camden City School District, also applauded the new program, saying “The Camden City School District is proud to be a part of the inaugural Smart Students Choose New Jersey scholarship and internship program.”
Rouhanifard added, “Our students deserve equal opportunities to make the most of their enormous potential, and we’re grateful that this program recognizes the achievements of Camden’s top-ranked students, rewards them for academic excellence, and supports them in building successful futures.”
The pilot program is being advanced in response to statistics showing annually nearly 35,000 of New Jersey’s high school graduates leave New Jersey for their college education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
In addition, research shows that students offered paid internships had the highest job offer rate post-graduation. 56.5 percent of students surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers that had been interns received offers.
"New Jersey's highly educated workforce is one of its competitive advantages. It is a key reason why businesses choose to locate in the State and to stay and expand here," said Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer of PSE&G and chairman of Choose New Jersey.
"We need to do everything we can to encourage our best and brightest to stay,” LaRossa continued. “Choose New Jersey is doing that by putting together opportunities from the State's leading businesses and industries and committing to matching New Jersey's star students with jobs that could become their careers."
Smart Students Choose New Jersey is unique as it offers the opportunity for students to work at top businesses and organizations from around the State, from Fortune 500 companies, to labor organizations to small businesses that range across a variety of industries and sectors.
The internships will be offered for three consecutive summers (after their freshman, sophomore, and junior years).
The students will have the choice of remaining at the same company for all three years or working at three different companies each summer. Smart Students Choose New Jersey will be implemented and managed by the Choose New Jersey staff.
Newark’s Lead Program Sponsor is Audible, Inc...
The program is also supported by PSEG, Atlantic City Electric, PNC Bank, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Hackensack University Health Network, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 825, Jersey Central Power & Light, Laborers International Union of North America, New Jersey American Water, NJM Insurance Group, New Jersey Resources, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Prudential Financial Inc., South Jersey Gas, Suez in North America, Verizon, Wakefern Food Corporation, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Campbell Soup Company.
The program will be offered as a pilot in its first year, with lessons learned applied to following years. The program, open to public, parochial and charter schools, will also be offered in the 11 eligible schools in the City of Camden.
The program’s 44 scholars will be announced in June 2016.
For more information about the Smart Students Choose New Jersey scholarship and internship program, visit www.choosenj.com/smart.
To view Choose New Jersey’s two press releases regarding the Newark and Camden programs, click here.
Choose New Jersey, Inc. is a privately funded non-profit organization, supported by leading business, labor and higher education institutions in the State. Choose New Jersey, Inc., is charged with encouraging and nurturing economic growth throughout New Jersey with a focus on making the state’s most distressed cities engines for growth and opportunity. Through marketing, business attraction and lead generation activities, Choose New Jersey markets New Jersey as a premiere business location to both domestic and international businesses.
Choose New Jersey is one of four elements of the Partnership for Action (PFA), which is led by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and also includes the New Jersey Business Action Center, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.