2017-2018 Grant Recipients

Rethink, Redesign, Revitalize: A Pilot Program to Radically Change the Educational Experience for New Brunswick Ninth Graders
Rutgers co-director: David Shernoff, Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education and Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
Community co-director: Aubrey Johnson, New Brunswick Public Schools

This collaborative venture will challenge high school teachers to rethink curricula, redesign instructional practices, and revitalize student motivation while introducing a new approach to organizing the school day. Central to the effort is an iSTEAM Academy, an unusually powerful learning experience that integrates creative thinking and design into the hard sciences. Teachers of incoming first-year students at New Brunswick High School will be guided and supported via a four-day summer workshop and monthly professional learning community meetings throughout the school year. Rutgers researchers will evaluate the program’s effectiveness, assessing teacher empowerment and student engagement, and disseminate their findings.


Youth in Action: Partnership for Civic Learning and Engagement
Rutgers co-director: Beth C. Rubin, Graduate School of Education
Community co-director: Marnie McKoy, New Brunswick Public Schools

This partnership is designed to build on the diversity and strengths of New Brunswick public school students by engaging them in civic action research on critical school and community topics. By empowering young people to take an active role in their communities, this project seeks to foster the analytical, literacy, and communication skills that are essential to informed citizenship. This project will provide valuable insight into the potential of civic action research to engage youth, foster educational relationships, and develop the capacity of teachers to be critical civic educators while furthering Rutgers’ community partnership goals of citizenship, leadership, and youth development.


Addressing Tobacco Use Among Public Housing Residents
Rutgers co-director: Marc Steinberg, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Community co-director: John Clarke, New Brunswick Housing Authority

Tobacco use is a significant problem in public housing, affecting smokers, their neighbors who inhale second-hand smoke, and the housing authority that must address and pay for cigarette-related damage. By means of a randomized clinical trial, this pilot project will examine strategies for encouraging smokers living in public housing units to quit using tobacco. Not only does this partnership have the potential to improve public health by decreasing smoking rates among residents, it coincides with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development smoking ban to be implemented by the New Brunswick Housing Authority in July 2017.


Helping Low-Income Children Achieve a Healthy Weight Through Targeted Health Education Classes
Rutgers co-director: John Worobey, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Community co-director: Robin McRoberts, Visiting Nurse Association Health Group-WIC

Caregivers of low-income children enrolled in WIC—the federally funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—currently receive nutrition education in addition to food and other support. This project seeks to determine if a comprehensive health education intervention designed for obese preschoolers (age 2 to 5 years) enrolled in WIC–New Brunswick is more effective than standard nutrition education in reducing or maintaining weight status. A successful program could potentially be implemented at WIC offices statewide, helping to reverse the unenviable high rate of childhood obesity in New Jersey.


Wellness Interventions for Life’s Demands and Workforce Development
Rutgers co-director: Karen Lin, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Community co-director: Anthony Capece, Elijah’s Promise

How do we empower vulnerable people to take health into their own hands?  One strategy is to integrate wellness interventions into workforce-training programs for populations with limited access to these services. This project will assess the effectiveness of WILD 5 Wellness, a 90-day prescriptive, and trackable wellness intervention combining five elements including exercise, mindfulness, sleep, social connectedness, and nutrition in improving the wellbeing of students enrolled in a longstanding New Brunswick culinary vocational program. 


Growing Developmental Assets: Measuring the Impact of Teen Community Leadership in an Urban Community Garden
Rutgers co-director: Laura Bovitz, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Community co-director: Karen Stuppi, New Brunswick Free Public Library

The New Brunswick 4-H program delivers life skills–focused after-school clubs and programs to at-risk youth in New Brunswick through partnerships with community organizations. One effort, the New Brunswick 4-H Teen Council, has achieved success in encouraging leadership and civic engagement. This project seeks to more accurately assess the skills attainment of council participants and their impact in the community by studying teen involvement in the development of community garden programs for younger children. The study findings will inform improvements in leadership training programs, increase empowerment for teen participants, and broaden outreach to young, vulnerable youth at an age that is particularly responsive to mentoring.