NEW JERSEY CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION LAUNCHES MY SCHOOLS NEWARK
Online platform and web app to provide parents with empowering free digital research tool and ‘one-stop-shop’ with information on every school in Newark
Newark, NJ – Today, the New Jersey Children’s Foundation (NJCF) announced the launch of My Schools Newark, a new online research tool and mobile-friendly service-oriented website created to provide parents with a centralized resource for needed information on every school in Newark.
The platform is the result of extensive Newark-based focus groups and parent engagement, and has been in a public beta phase, available to Newarkers, throughout the development of the site since December. The platform is free of charge to all users and will continue to incorporate parent and community feedback ahead of a full version launch of the site in the coming months.
“As Newark’s population rises and the school system continues to grow, parents deserve access to better information regarding Newark’s many school options,” stated Kyle Rosenkrans, Executive Director of the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. “My Schools Newark was uniquely developed to serve the specific needs of Newark families and centralizes all school-based data and information to help those families navigate the city’s full menu of private, parochial, charter, and district school options.”
Rosenkrans continued, “Through citywide surveys and polling, multiple focus groups of Newark parents, and input from the city’s schools and community-based organizations, we learned a great deal during this initial process. We were thrilled that the beta version could serve as a resource to parents during the district’s recently concluded enrollment process and the feedback we have received has been amazing. Most of all, we are committed to developing and improving this product based on the needs of Newark families.”
In conjunction with today’s announcement, NJCF announced that the platform would be led by Octavia Thompson, who brings years of experience working in the education sector and specifically supporting Newark families. For the last six years, Ms. Thompson worked at a public school in Newark, where she served as the lead point of contact for families in need of assistance in navigating the citywide common enrollment system.
“During this challenging moment in education, it is more important than ever to help families learn about the many great school options in Newark,” added Ms. Thompson. “Our focus at My Schools Newark has been to listen and learn first and create a resource that is indeed needed and valued by parents. Our surveys, focus groups, and interaction with schools and parents over the last several months point to a clear and resounding “YES!” – that parents want more resources and find this type of tool useful. Most important, we see even greater potential to continue evolving this needed platform to ensure greater transparency and information sharing in the future.”
My Schools Newark began its development by commissioning the Global Strategy Group to conduct a citywide survey of Newark voters and focus groups with Newark school parents to learn and understand their feelings on how to improve the school selection and enrollment experience. Key findings can be found by clicking here.
In those findings, parents shared that it was often hard to gain the information they needed about local schools, even relying on their own Google searches to find information pertaining to their school choices. Nearly all who were asked said they welcome a new resource that makes it easier and more direct to get information about all school options in Newark.
“Wow, it’s all there! It gives you everything, the magnets, and the charters. Very interesting,” noted a parent participating in My Schools Newark focus groups with children attending a Newark high school. Another Newark parent shared, “[This] pretty much has everything to make a far better-informed decision on what schools to select.”
My Schools Newark began beta-testing in December of last year, outreaching Newark families through social and digital engagement and gaining continued feedback from Newark schools and community groups. The platform received more than 45,000 unique visits during the initial public beta phase, providing the development team with quality data about user habits that will improve the experience for families in the future.
“This really is an exciting new resource,” shared Dane Tomlin, parent of a sophomore and 5th grader, in a Newark school. “To see info about ALL schools readily available on ONE platform is absolutely AMAZING! I not only will use this when my sons are entering a transition grade, but it’s an absolute must share with friends and family who ask me where they can learn more about Newark schools.”
In February, My Schools Newark also hosted a virtual school fair to assist families during the Newark Enrolls application period, including representatives from over 20 schools from the district, charter, and pre-k sectors in Newark. More than 100 parents and family members registered to attend the event.
Much like any other app or software, My Schools Newark will grow over time, by responding to the feedback from its parent-users that will help the team make fixes, add new features, and increase outreach–including more school fairs and partnerships with community-based organizations.
For more information on My Schools Newark, please visit https://www.myschoolsnewark.org/ or visit the school explorer tool at: https://explore.myschoolsnewark.org/.