City of Newark and Newark Public Schools Launch Crisis Text Line for Individuals in Need

Crisis Text Line will help connect Newark residents with local resources, support

[Newark, NJ – March 29, 2016] – Through the recently launched Opportunity Youth Network (OYN), Newark Public Schools (NPS) and the City of Newark announced today that Newark residents will have access to a new, 24-hour support service called the Crisis Text Line (CTL). The CTL is an anonymous, free counseling service for people in crisis that will help connect Newark teens and adults with local resources.

“The Crisis Text Line is an innovative addition to our programs to help teens and families at risk. It is important at a time of crisis that people receive help quickly and effectively,” said Mayor Ras Baraka.

CTL is staffed by 940 trained volunteers throughout the country who are qualified to help families with a range of issues including suicide prevention, sexual abuse, housing issues, bullying, homelessness and substance abuse. Currently, there are 1,000 additional volunteers in training in various locations throughout the United States.

“The Crisis Text Line will serve as a critical resource for our students and families across the district,” said NPS Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf. “Many kids in Newark face serious challenges. The Crisis Text Line provides easy and effective tool to help our youth navigate these challenges with some assistance. Providing support services for our kids and families is a priority for the district and with the help of Opportunity Youth Network, we hope to better serve all our families in need.”

As of March 20th, anyone in Newark can text “NEW” to 741741 when in crisis anywhere, anytime. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly. The crisis counselor helps individuals move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using CTL’s secure platform.

“The Newark Opportunity Youth Network is proud to partner with and provide volunteers for the Crisis Text Line,” said Khalil Murrell, Senior Strategy Officer for OYN. “It is important that all members of our community have access to counseling and support services they need to improve their quality of life.”

In order to participate in the CTL, the OYN is committing 25 volunteers from five community-based organizations including La Casa de Don Pedro, Urban League of Essex County, New Community Corporation, Rutgers TEEM Gateway and Leaders for Life, Inc. Each volunteer will receive over 30 hours of training to become a CTL counselor.

While the CTL is completely anonymous, NPS and OYN will receive data that CTL collects detailing the kinds of crises that Newark residents face most. This data will help NPS develop more targeted interventions, as well as create a focus for student groups and advisories.

The Opportunity Youth Network, launched in December of 2015 by Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf and the Foundation for Newark’s Future (FNF), is an initiative to provide educational and support services to the city’s most vulnerable young people. FNF is expected to invest up to $2.5 million in OYN over the next three years.

Approximately 20 percent of Newark’s young people, age 18 to 24, do not have a high school diploma. Over 3,800 of Newark’s dropouts are either unemployed or under-employed. Nearly 1,000 students fall behind their classmates each year, placing them in danger of dropping out or not being able to find a job. The City of Newark, Newark Public Schools, Rutgers University-Newark, the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, the Prudential Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, and the Foundation for Newark’s Future partnered to form Newark Opportunity Youth Network to address this disengagement crisis and establish a network of campuses and programs led by local community based organizations (CBOs) to provide educational, social and job training services throughout the city.

OYN will help to strengthen the city’s workforce, reduce the rate of dropouts, and positively alter the life trajectory of thousands of school-aged youth.

About Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for people in crisis via text. For more, visit