Advancing STEM Career Pathways for Trenton’s Youth

Young bright minds in Trenton, New Jersey continue to discover new pathways to advanced STEM careers.

Greater Trenton, an independent 501(c)(3) that leverages private funding and a network of collaborative relationships to catalyze economic revitalization efforts in New Jersey’s Capital City, is utilizing funds from PNC Bank Foundation which granted $50,000 last year, and an additional $50,000 this year, to support initiatives preparing Trenton Central High School students for science-, technology-, engineering-, and mathematics-focused occupations.

The funding supports the Princeton ArcPrep Program, a partnership between Princeton University School of Architecture and Trenton Central High School, as well as the STEM Academy’s Black Seal Certification program which helps create economic opportunities by promoting advanced career possibilities for Trenton’s youth.

“PNC as a National Main Street Bank is committed to supporting the strength and economic vitality of the communities where we live and work,” said Enrico Della Corna, PNC Bank New Jersey regional president. “Our collaboration with Greater Trenton reflects PNC’s focus on advancing the opportunity for economic equality.”

As leaders across the city and throughout the region continue to be emboldened by the massive potential development opportunities and spirited collaborations in Trenton such as the Princeton Arc Prep program, they also recognize that, to truly move the city forward, there must be a concerted effort to build equity, promote diversity and create opportunities for residents. With Trenton’s increased population of 90,871, up 7% as of 2020 U.S. Census data, only 12.2% of the city’s youth over 25 years old obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The PNC Foundation grant is intended to help address this trend and underscores the focus of PNC’s $88 billion Community Benefits Plan, inclusive of a previously announced commitment of more than $1 billion to support the economic empowerment of Black Americans and low- and moderate- income communities.

“For Trenton to revitalize itself in an equitable fashion, we advocate for projects that will not only bring economic revitalization and increased economic activity, but for those that advocate for youth education as a basis for moving out of poverty,” said George Sowa, Chief Executive Officer of Greater Trenton. “Greater Trenton relies on generous funding that helps foster and strengthen our community partnerships, like as our affiliations with The Trenton Public Education Foundation, Trenton Central High School and Princeton University, to help support the city’s underprivileged youth and address economic inequality.”

“The Trenton Public Education Foundation is proud to collaborate with Greater Trenton and is very appreciative of the funding for these programs, which helps fulfill our mission to provide Trenton students with the knowledge and skills that lead to high-paying jobs and success in school and career,” said Frank J. Petrino, TPEF Chairperson and 1965 Trenton High School graduate.

Princeton ArcPrep is a program introducing Trenton High School Students to the discipline of architecture through an immersive, semester-long course on architecture, urbanism, and integrated design studio practices. Unlike other architecture high school programs, ArcPrep’s studio instruction is not an extra-curricular activity, it is embedded within the high school curriculum and the daily schedule of participating students. The funding will support fifteen Trenton Central High School students to be a part of this highly technical hands-on experience.

Dean Ponce de Leon of Princeton University’s School of Architecture stated, “Princeton ArcPrep is introducing some of our region’s most promising students to architecture, a field that has historically lacked diversity. I am deeply committed to providing these students-all of whom have an aptitude for architecture but lack access to formal training and support-an opportunity to develop the skills that will propel them into a successful career.”

“Growing up, I had no exposure to the architecture profession or architects’ vital role in society. These were not things I would encounter till much later,” said Jorge Gonzalez, Architectural Design Fellow at Princeton University School of Architecture. “I wish I could have had an opportunity like ArcPrep. The students in our program are so early in their education that what we teach them can really transform their worldview.  These high school sophomores come into the program with a willingness to learn new things, be challenged, and work hard.  And they leave knowing not just what architecture is and what architects do, but they also have developed a profound understanding and different kind of relationship to the built environment. They have new eyes to see the world that had always surrounded them. The Trenton Public Education Fund and the generous funding support helps to make this possible and allow us to provide the best educational experiences and technologies for our students.”

The funding also supports the STEM Academy’s Black Seal Certification Program, in partnership with The Training Center, empowering ten Trenton Central High School Seniors to receive training for the New Jersey Black Seal High and Low (H&L) Pressure Boiler License Certificate; transportation to work sites for hands on training and real-world experience; and ultimately, certification for students who successfully complete the program and pass the State’s Black Seal Certificate exam. Through this program, students build the professional foundation in the field of stationary engineering in the State.  These jobs offer notable compensation and job security across the State. In addition, the skills learned apply to a broad range of occupations and increase the likelihood of long-term career success; putting students on a career pathway and fulfilling workplace needs for licensed Black Seal operators.

“Students deserve access to career and technical education if that is the career path they choose, and there is no greater return on investment than the school-to-workforce pipeline, especially during a pandemic,” said Scott Munro, STEM Chairman at TCHS. “I am so proud to be partnered with The Training Center, Trenton Public Education Foundation, and Greater Trenton. We have established Trenton Central High School as the regional educational partner to meet New Jersey’s power industry needs in High-Pressure boiler operations with a pipeline of certified and skilled work-ready youth.

“We are thrilled to provide our resources and education style to these young adults,” said Patrick Moscatiello, General Manager at The Training Center. “All students should have an equal opportunity to succeed. On-the-job experience has added another dimension to the equation, as it opens a form of learning that inspires confidence. We are on a mission to make a difference in this community.”

Greater Trenton also serves as a mentor to the students through classroom talks, and encouragement on portfolio day, and is also an ongoing advocate for additional funds and resources.

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