Community Engagement at Rutgers SPAA

Rutgers SPAA maintains close relationships with New Jersey's local and state government agencies and nonprofit organizations. They help provide students with learning opportunities, graduates with career opportunities, and career mobility for those seeking career change.

SPAA’s curriculum incorporates educational experiences designed for transformative student learning – experiences outside the four corners of a classroom – that includes internships, study abroad, service learning, and applied research opportunities. These interactions occur across government, nonprofit, and public sector organizations.

The School’s institutes and initiatives provide assistance and resources to community organizations. SPAA faculty and alumni maintain strong ties within our community through their positions and their involvement with area organizations.

Recent inititives include:

Public and Nonprofit Administration Undergraduate Internship Program
All students in the undergraduate Public and Nonprofit Administration program at the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) complete a two-semester internship program that provides a service–learning opportunity for those seeking careers in the public sector. Students assist in the delivery of services while improving their civic and citizenship skills and provide more than 150 hours of service within government and nonprofit organizations that are typically located in the Greater Newark metropolitan area. Students have recently interned at the Office of Congressman Donald Payne; New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC); Newark Beth Israel Medical Center; Brick City Alumni Group; and LGBTQ Diversity Resources.

Public and Nonprofit Administration Graduate Capstone Projects
Master of Public Administration (MPA) students in their final year of study at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) are engaged in research projects about issues that affect the community while working with government and nonprofit organizations located in the Greater Newark metropolitan area. Through this research-based service learning initiative, students have the opportunity to integrate their learning from various courses and apply analysis to real-world issues while working individually under the guidance of a faculty member to develop a research design, carry out data collection and analysis, evaluate their findings, and provide conclusions and recommendations to assist the organization. Recent projects have included: Analysis of communication issues and management of resources regarding missed trash pickup in the City of Newark; Analysis of outreach and public campaign efforts to increase use of the Newark Public Library; and Developing a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Newark’s South Ward.

State of New Jersey Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program & Capstone Projects
The Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program, administered through Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) in conjunction with the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, equips participants with the skills and competencies needed to impact their organization’s efforts to meet its mission and performance goals in today’s dynamic public management environment. As a requirement of the program, students work on a capstone project that benefits their organization. Recent projects have included: “Brick CitiSTAT,” with the City of Newark, Office of the Mayor; “Succession Planning in Human Resource Management for the City of Newark Department of Child and Family Well-Being” with the Executive Assistant/Financial Operations Office, City of Newark, Department of Child and Family Well-Being; and “Juvenile Delinquency: Implementation of Alternative to Detention Programs in Passaic County New Jersey: The One Stop Juvenile Behavioral Health Awareness and Wellness Initiatives” with the Assistant Family Division Manager, Passaic County Superior Court, Family Division.

The Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry (CAAI) & Certificate in Appreciative Inquiry for Strengths-Based Leadership and Innovation in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
The Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry (CAAI) at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) assists community organizations and groups with strategic planning, reorganization, and community engagement initiatives toward facilitating positive change. Through the use of positively constructed questions and a structured dialogue process, Appreciative Inquiry (Ai) seeks to discover the conditions, factors, and strengths that contribute to success and how they can be replicated to create new possibilities for greater future success. The center has provided technical assistance to colleges and universities, nonprofit and public sector organizations. CAAI projects in Newark, NJ have included working with Newark Fairmount Promise Neighborhood on a community engagement/strategic plan and a Community Advocates and Parent/School Relationships Workshop. CAAI also offers a non-credit Certificate in Appreciative Inquiry which provides students with an opportunity to learn how to apply Appreciative Inquiry (Ai) and the SOAR methodology (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) for positive organizational change and innovation and strategic planning. Through coursework and fieldwork, students apply what they learn by designing a project unique to their organization or community. Projects from the first cohort included: An internal and external assessment of a family behavioral health agency and a strategic plan for a collaborative of multiple agencies in Newark supporting the My Brother’s Keeper initiative; and Design and facilitation of a 750-person summit at the student’s community college, which engaged faculty, staff and students in a strengths-based planning dialogue leading to the implementation of Achieving the Dream for improved student retention and graduation rates.

National Center for Public Performance (NCPP)
The National Center for Public Performance (NCPP) provides free technical assistance to the State of New Jersey and county and local governments to improve the performance government operations through technology and evidence-based governance. Recent projects have included designing three new surveys for the Newark Municipal Courts that covered citizens conducting court business, employees, and legal professionals, and compiling a program evaluation and best practice report on Bergen County’s application of road salt to county managed roads that included a survey of nearly 100 county officials from around the country to derive a series of recommended changes for Bergen County.

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