On February 5, 2018, Dr. Sandra Strothers began her role as executive director of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s ‘Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates’ program designed to help at-risk high school students develop the skills they need to flourish in college and in the workplace.
The announcement was made by Donna Custard, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which manages the program. “We are fortunate to bring in an executive director of Dr. Strothers’s caliber,” Custard said. “She brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective that will benefit the program and the students.”
Strothers previously worked at the New Jersey Department of Education for 16 years, and ten years in higher education. She has logged a total of more than two decades in volunteer, community and non-profit service, including three years as the state director of the ‘Jobs for New Jersey Graduates’ program when it was run by the State Department of Education.
‘Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates’ is a chapter of a national initiative called ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates,’ better known as JAG. The program is focused on offering support to students who are at risk of dropping out of school.
The New Jersey program is offered in ten schools and a non-profit organization in Newark, Camden, East Orange, Carteret, New Brunswick, Philadelphia, and Vineland. More than 330
students are participating. Participants are typically from low-income families and struggle with academic, environmental, physical, psychological or work-related barriers to success, which makes them especially susceptible to dropping out.
Participating students, chosen by teachers and guidance counselors, study leadership and employment skills, and receive academic support, access to inspiring guest speakers, tours of local businesses, and mentoring as they consider pursuing college or a career. Students, who take JAG as an elective, also have the opportunity to attend statewide and national conferences where they befriend and compete with program participants from all over the nation. Graduates of the program continue to receive support for 12 months after high school graduation to help them as they transition into college or a career.
The program is funded solely through donations by private and corporate partners such as AT&T, Prudential Foundation, Investors Bank, Victoria Foundation, PSEG and Wells Fargo program.
In her role as executive director, Strothers will be responsible for holding partner organizations accountable for reporting and program outcomes; ensuring the program conforms to the Jobs for America’s Graduates national model; identifying funding sources; and developing pipelines for students from JAG programs to employment, military and post-secondary education.