City of Passaic: Partnering for Education and Employment Opportunities

Report National Resource Network Passaic, New Jersey April 25, 2017 Workforce Development

The City of Passaic, New Jersey, is a growing municipality, which historically has been a first home to many immigrant groups. Today’s immigrant population has increased the population from 50,000 in the 1960’s to nearly 70,000 residents today, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the nation.

With this new group of residents, nearly half of whom were born outside the United States, the City of Passaic faces significant socioeconomic challenges. Of its 69,781 residents, less than 20 percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree; 100 percent of students in the public school system qualify for free-and-reduced-price lunches; nearly one-in-three residents live in poverty and a significant portion of the population does not have U.S. citizenship, experiencing significant language and cultural barriers to success. The city is attempting to address these multiple challenges through education and workforce development initiatives.

Providing Passaic’s young adults with access to career pathways in the region’s key growth industries is vital for the city’s economic competitiveness. The city engaged the Network to support and facilitate the creation of the Passaic Pathways Partnership.

The Passaic Pathways Partnership was designed to bring a variety of local stakeholders together to better coordinate the city’s economic development efforts with its partners in education (K-16). Strengthening the Passaic Public School District’s ability to implement a successful pathways program created positive and proactive collective synergy.

The Partnership provides vision, guidance, and oversight, and convenes and coordinates the efforts of various partners. The Partnership created opportunities for business partners to play a critical role in educating and working with young adults while they are still in high school. Through participation in the Partnership, businesses also add value to the development of the career pathway programs at the high school-level by informing and ensuring that CTE courses correspond to and are representative of industry and workforce needs. The Partnership relies on business expertise to develop appropriate and up-to-date curricula that is consistent with industry standards and trends.

The City of Passaic, a valuable member of the Partnership, brings formal authority, serves as a strong community champion, and provides access to significant resources. For example, the Partnership helped formalize efforts to share facilities among the city, Passaic Public Schools, and community colleges; promoted various shared service agreements; and linked the deliberate expansion of the educational offerings of the public school district and community college to the broader needs of the City and employers. In addition, the Partnership presents city government with a platform to begin a broader and more inclusive conversation around economic development.

The Network’s engagement team in Passaic was led by Network consortium member Enterprise Community Partners; this work was done as part of the New Jersey State Resource Network (NJ SRN).

City of Passaic: Partnering for Education and Employment Opportunities