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Arts Ed Newark Publishes 5-Year Report on Community-Led Healing-Centered Engagement Work

Newark, NJ, March 30, 2023 – In its newly published 5-year report, Arts Ed Newark (AEN) reflects on five years of successful collaboration, aligning arts education and trauma-informed care and healing centered practices in partnership with The Greater Newark Health Care Coalition (GNHCC), My Brother’s Keeper Newark (MBKN), and other community-based health and safety, education, and arts organizations. This document chronicles the years of community convening, curating, researching, developing and sharing best practices, which involved major Newark stakeholders such as Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition, Newark Trust for Education, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Services, and ultimately garnered over $350,000 in investment from funders like the National Endowment for the Arts as well as broader attention from arts organizations across the country like Young Audiences, New Jersey Performing Arts Center Arts Education Department, Save the Music Foundation, El Sistema USA, The Center for Arts Education and Social Emotional Learning, and Grantmakers for Education.

AEN developed an inspiring workshop series and peer learning community, amassing a team of teaching artists and social workers to work with youth-serving professionals to understand trauma, incorporate arts-based strategies that reduce the impacts of trauma, and promote healing-centered engagement for students, education and healthcare colleagues, and workers in cultural institutions and community-based organizations. To date, the three-part workshop series, offered free of charge, has served nearly 400 educators, community members and parents, 156 of which are Newark Board of Education (NBOE) educators - responding directly to Mayor Baraka’s 2016 all for a more trauma-informed city. Additionally, a Peer Learning Community has been established since 2021, allowing for 72 trained participants to implement their learning and dig deeper into subject matter. The program has been presented in-person, virtually, as well as a site-specific school (Lincoln Elementary located in Newark’s West Ward, where nearly 70 school staff members are having ongoing workshops).

Compiled by Sonnet Takahisa through first-hand interviews of original committee members, thought partners, facilitators, and participants, the report is a testament to the power of collective impact and whatcoming together under one unified goal can achieve. It also shares how the trauma informed and healing centered program evolved over the pandemic, and its evolving impact.

“We could not have anticipated how an international pandemic might have both interrupted and also tested this work in real-time,” said Lauren Meehan, Director of Arts Ed Newark, as she reflected on the timing of the course’s initial 2020 rollout. “Since then, an overwhelming majority of participants have come away with actual tools to mitigate and understand the impact of trauma.” When we embarked on this work in 2017, we hoped to shift thinking from “what is wrong with you? to “what happened to you?” We are now shifting our language and our work toward the more asset-based lens of healing centered engagement, asking participants to go a step further and ask, “What is right with you?

To help celebrate the report’s publishing, AEN hosted a Launch Party on March 30, at the NJ Historical Society, 52 Park Place, to feature a panel of past/present facilitators and participants, followed by refreshments with the initiatives’s funders, partners, city and NBOE district officials invited.

For more on Arts Ed Newark and Healing-Centered-Engagement, visit

Read this press release on Newark Patch.


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