Innovative Enrollment Portal Opened Friday for Second Year of Operation with Added Schools, and an Accessible and Convenient Application Process

Families flooded the Newark Common App (NCA), which launched the second year of the application and enrollment portal available to all families interested in attending the vast majority of Newark’s charter school options. The first phase of school applications on the Newark Common App opened on December 1st, 2023, and will close on March 11th, 2024.

“We are excited to re-open the Newark Common App and to build on what we learned in year one,” said Leslie Comesañas, Director of Family and Community Support for the Newark Common App. “We want to make this process as easy and seamless as possible for Newark families and their children, and to do whatever we can to provide them with access to the school of their choice.”

The Newark Common App joins the Newark Enrolls System, which is the enrollment system for families looking to enroll in district public schools. Information about all public school options–both charter and district–can be found on the website The site provides Newark families with a school-finder tool they can use to learn school by school information such as location, what grades they serve, academic results, and extracurricular activities or thematic focus area.

Development of the Newark Common App was done in partnership with the Newark community to design a new centralized application, lottery, and waitlist that could better serve Newark families and schools. The platform is designed to be simple for families to use and reliable for schools that participate, and this year has added a chatbot and more virtual office hours to further support families. All students who apply before March 11, 2024 will be included in a centralized lottery for the schools they’ve selected. The portal reopens after March 11th for all schools that still have seats available.

Newark families have two enrollment systems when choosing schools for their children, as well as a school-finder platform to help them explore their options. Newark Common App has added two new schools this year, making for a total of nine charter school networks participating that serve nearly 20,000 students across Newark (All but three of the city’s charter schools are participating). All participating schools can be found on the homepage of Newark Enrolls serves as the enrollment platform for all district schools and two public charter schools, that application portal and participating schools can be found at

“Newark has a host of great public school options that include public district and public charter schools,” said Barbara Martinez, Executive Director of the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. “While finding and enrolling in school can be a cumbersome process, Newark Common App has worked to make the process as easy as possible for participating schools as well as families.”

In year one, families who used the Newark Common App for the first time saw great match results. 99% of those who applied to kindergarten during the first phase of the enrollment window got matched to a school of their choice, with 98% getting their first choice. Kindergarten is where the largest number of openings are by a significant amount for any of the Newark Common App grade spans, with over 1,000 seats available representing 37% of the total seats matched across the system.

When looking across all grades, inclusive of PreK 3 and 4, the vast majority of families (85%) got one of their top three choices in this first application phase, with 89% of Newark residents across grades K-12 getting an initial match to a school of their choice. Nearly 85% of parents who responded to a year one survey about the application process found that it was easy or very easy to use.

The underlying technology for Newark Common App was designed by Avela, a leading expert on school enrollment. Avela was founded in 2019 by Nobel Laureate Josh Angrist, Clark Medalist Parag Pathak, and Social Entrepreneur Greg Bybee to empower districts to boost enrollment, streamline operations, support families, and promote equity using research-proven approaches. Avela works with districts and non-profits around the country to create technology platforms that make it easier for families to find and apply to K-12 schools

“We are delighted to partner with NJCF to ensure all families in Newark can access high quality schools, regardless of their background, language, device, or technical abilities,” added Greg Bybee, CEO of Avela. “We’re excited to launch year two with many enhancements suggested directly by Newark schools and families! There’s no better way to design a program than alongside the users it benefits.”