Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship Selects Inaugural Class of Newark Fellows

March 9, 2017

20 Newark youth ages 16 – 20 will form the inaugural Newark cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows

James White
The Aspen Institute
202.297.3990 |

Peter Englot
Rutgers University-Newark
973.353.5541 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 9, 2017 – The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs today announced the selection of 20 Newark youth ages 16 – 20 for the inaugural Newark cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows. The first new undertaking of The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs, the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) will develop values-driven young leaders and enable the next generation of citizens. As Aspen Young Leaders Fellows, this group will develop the skillsets necessary to drive the change they want to see in Newark. The inaugural cohort of AYLF Newark Fellows is demographically representative of Newark, and they are ready to take on the city’s challenges through action guided by values-based leadership.

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship is a new, place-based initiative of The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs that will develop the next generation of local, purpose-driven community leaders. In accordance with The Institute’s commitment to values-based, action-oriented leadership, AYLF will foster substantive thought around the values and perspectives necessary to face the challenges in urban and rural communities across America. The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship is a two-year commitment of which a portion will be dedicated to helping Fellows build the skills necessary to engage effectively with their communities, and the remaining portion will call upon Fellows to use those skillsets to take action to solve critical issues facing their communities.

The Newark cohort of AYLF Fellows is a diverse and dynamic group. Their ethnicities and cultural identities are as diverse as the city itself. They are high school students, college students, and members of the workforce. Their interests include everything from the arts and volunteer work to sports and academic inquiry. “We could not be more excited for the launch of the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship in Newark,” said AYLF Program Director Zakiya Reid. “We met an incredible and passionate group of young people during the interview process, and we can’t wait to engage with them to do the work that they are as excited about embarking upon as we are in Newark.”

In Newark, AYLF is in partnership with Rutgers University-Newark and Newark Public Schools (NPS). “Teaming up with The Aspen Institute and Newark Public Schools is exactly the kind of partnership it takes to cultivate new generations of leaders for a world that we all desperately need to be more inclusive,” said Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “We need leaders committed to unpacking the world’s most taxing challenges from a ground-up perspective, with insights garnered both from personal experience and from learning how to really listen to and talk to others who have travelled different paths. It’s not only important to us in Newark, but in cities and regions like it across the nation and around the world.”

Said NPS Superintendent, Christopher Cerf, “At Newark Public Schools, we aim to provide students with as many opportunities as possible to be successful in life after high school. The AYLF program is an amazing opportunity for Newark students to learn and grow as they prepare to leave our schools… We couldn’t be happier to be a partner in this effort and [we] look forward to working with the AYLF team to support this cohort of Fellows.”

The first session of AYLF Newark programming will take place on Rutgers University Newark’s campus on March 17 and 18. More information on AYLF can be found at

Youth & Engagement Programs is a new strategic focus area for The Aspen Institute to incubate and grow programs that work directly with young people ages 14 to 24. Youth & Engagement Programs’ mission is to empower generations of thoughtful, socially-conscious, and diverse young people engaged in solving the critical issues of the day through programming that is effective, scalable, and capable of broadening the reach of The Institute beyond the constituencies it currently serves. Youth & Engagement Programs’ team values are: We argue joyfully. We are equals. We boldly seek excellence to transform society. We act with graciousness and gratitude in all we do. 

The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute is based in Washington, DC and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

Rutgers University-Newark is a diverse, urban, public research university that is an anchor institution in New Jersey’s cultural capital. Approximately 12,000 students are currently enrolled at its 38-acre campus in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered through the Newark College of Arts and Sciences, University College, the Graduate School-Newark, Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick, the School of Law-Newark, the School of Criminal Justice, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration. Rutgers University-Newark has a remarkable legacy of producing high-impact scholarship that is connected to the great questions and challenges of the world. It is in and of a city and region where its work on local challenges undertaken with partners from sectors resonates powerfully throughout our urbanizing world.  Most importantly, Rutgers University-Newark brings an incredible diversity of people to this work – students, faculty, staff, and community partners – making it more innovative, more creative, more engaging, and more relevant for our time and the times ahead. For more information, please visit

The Newark School District is the largest and one of the oldest school systems in New Jersey. The racial and ethnic diversity of Newark provides a rich educational experience for pre-kindergarten to secondary school students. The district operates 65 traditional public schools, with a total enrollment of just over 36 thousand students. The Newark School District continues to revise its services to meet the changing needs of the students they serve.

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