Social Justice Challenge

2015-2016

Rutgers University-Newark

School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA)

Social Justice Challenge
Engaging Youth and Young Adults: A Call to Action

The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University-Newark hosted the first ever national Social Justice Challenge—where students enrolled in NASPAA and APPAM member programs from across the country had the opportunity to generate ideas for innovative projects that responded to a significant social justice issue currently affecting youth and young adult populations. There were two tracks to the Social Justice Challenge: a "National Track," and a "Newark Track."


Winners

The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University-Newark is pleased to announce the awards for the first national Social Justice Challenge:

 

$5,000 AWARDEES: Newark-Track Project Team 

Project Title: Juvenile Justice Education

– Annabel Polioni, Law Student
– Farah Rahaman, Law Student
– Justin Williams, Graduate Student, Public Policy
– Victoria Saraiva, Law Student

Brief Project Description: This is a proposal addressing juvenile justice in the greater Newark area. Our focus will be on education around legal rights and empowering recently released youth to participate in the policy reform movement.

 

$5,000 AWARDEES: National-Track Project Team 

Project Title: Urban Food Forest

– Matthew Closter, PhD Student in Public Affairs-Community Development
– Liz Ramos, Undergraduate Student, Biology Department
– Maryann Joseph, Undergraduate Student, Biology Department
– Timnit Kefela, Graduate Student, Biology Department
– Carols Matei-Ramos, LEAP Academy Fabrication Lab Director
– LEAP Students: Eduardo Cruz, Jean Pelegrin, Beilka Gonzalez, Karina Velez, Calix Ortiz, Christian Azaris Melendez, Justin Estevez, Nasir Vaughs, Adoins Ortiz, Dimitrius Eliza, Samuel Morales

Brief Project Description: An interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students are collaborating with LEAP Academy University Charter School high school in Camden, NJ to construct an urban school food forest comprised of vegetable gardens and planting beds located on the grounds of the Cooper Street school. We aim to tackle the crisis of Camden lacking adequate access to healthy and affordable food options and of contaminated social quality left over from mass industrialization by developing a unique self-sustaining process of recycling food waste from the school's cafeterias into resuable soil for quality planting and food cultivation.

 

1ST RUNNERS UP: Newark-Track Project Team

Project Title: Constructing for tomorrow 

– John Palatucci, MPA Candidate
– Sharon Diaz-Palatucci, MS, CTRS- BH, Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Health Specialist The Schwickrath Construction Safety & Consulting Group, LLC Education Director
– William Schwickrath, OSHA 500 Certified Trainer, The Schwickrath Construction Safety & Consulting Group, LLC Founder & CEO

 

1ST RUNNERS UP: National-Track Project Team

Project Title: Reduce the Demand: Commercial Sex Consumer Education

- Joyce Liou, Public Administration Graduate Student
- Rene Velazquez, Public Administration Graduate Student
- Elisa Villarreal, Public Administration Graduate Student


The Finals

We received a considerable number of applications for both tracks, and a total of seven teams advanced to the final round of the Challenge. We would like to congratulate these seven teams, as each team (in both tracks) competed for seed funding of $5,000 to launch and/or expand their ideas. The proposals that advanced to the Finals focused on:

  • Creation of an urban food forest
  • Commercial sex consumer education
  • Juvenile justice initiatives
  • Mental well-being of young adults
  • Art programs for the promotion of civic engagement
  • Provision of transitional support services and resources for vulnerable adolescents 
  • Skills based training in construction 

The Social Justice Challenge Finals were live-streamed on November 23, 2015 from 10am (ET) - 12pm (ET). View the SJC Finals Presentation


About The Social Justice Challenge (SJC)

The Social Justice Challenge (SJC) is a student competition initiative organized by the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University-Newark. Through the initiative, students will have the opportunity to generate ideas for innovative projects that respond to significant social justice issues currently affecting youth and young adult populations and compete for seed funding to launch and/or expand their ideas.

Social justice is defined as the act of "... promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity." Social justice is generally equated with notions of equality.[1]

A new poll by Harvard University Institute of Politics finds that youth and young adults across America are profoundly dissatisfied with the big institutions that are primarily responsible for ensuring equal treatment for all.[2] Specifically, the poll indicates that 18-29-year-olds have a deep distrust of many of the major institutions in America (e.g., Congress, local police, the media). Such profound distrust does not bode well for the future of our country.

Through the SJC, university students across the country have an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to advancing social justice and equality by:

  1. Generating ideas for innovative projects that respond to a significant social justice issue of their choice (relating to the Challenge theme of “Engaging Youth and Young Adults: A Call to Action”), and
  2. Competing for seed funding to launch and/or expand their idea(s).

This is an opportunity for students (both, undergraduate and graduate) to work as individuals or to collaborate on multidisciplinary teams to tackle complex social justice issues currently affecting youth and young adult populations.

Any organized activity intended to address a social justice issue affecting youth and young adults will be considered for the award. Examples include (but, are not limited to) civic campaigns, campus-wide events; social networking or social media initiatives; publications; intercollegiate events; independent programs; or, for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid ventures.

There are two tracks to the SJC:

  • Newark Track: Projects that respond to a significant social justice issue affecting youth and young adults in the city of Newark, New Jersey.
  • National Track: Projects that respond to a significant social justice issue affecting youth and young adults in any US locale.

The top teams will present their ideas (via video conferencing) to a panel of distinguished judges including social justice experts, faculty members, and other community leaders. The winning team in both categories will receive a $5,000 cash prize and the opportunity to have their projects and/or ideas implemented!


[1] Department of Government and Justice Studies, Appalachian State University (2015). What is social justice? Retrieved online at: http://gjs.appstate.edu/social-justice-and-human-rights/what-social-justice

[2] Institute of Politics, Harvard University (2015). No front-runner among prospective Republican candidates, Hillary Clinton in control of Democratic primary, Harvard youth poll finds. Retrieved online at: http://www.iop.harvard.edu/no-front-runner-among-prospective-republican-...

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