National Week of the Young Child

Newark Public Schools Teams Up with “Cool Cat” to Launch the City’s 1st Family Pass to Newark’s Arts and Culture Programs for Children

Partnership Aims to Make Newark a Haven for Children’s First Exposure to Arts and Culture, Creative Curriculum, Expanded Extended Learning & Family Engagement

Newark Museum, Newark Arts Council, United Way, Whole Foods Partner Too

[NEWARK, New Jersey, April 17, 2018] Newark is fast becoming a capital for arts and culture for adults and now with the launch of the “Cool Cat” Family Pass, a national model for youth engagement to arts and culture, the city is quickly becoming the same arts and culture capital for Newark children and toddlers.

Newark Public Schools (NPS) announced today that they are partnering with Cool Cat Family Pass, the United Way of Essex and West Hudson, the Newark School of the Arts, the Newark Museum and other businesses and organizations to officially launch the Cool Cat Family Pass for Newark; a program by moms for kids. Since Cool Cat started less than three months ago, more than 800 families have registered for the program. NPS has already registered more than 1,000 kids and families for the Cool Cat Family Pass. NPS serves nearly 7,000 with their Early Childhood programs.

“The Cool Cat Family Pass provides a unique and free opportunity for young children, like those in our Early Childhood Programs, to use creative ways to learn, and it reinforces extended learning,” said Robert Gregory, Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “This partnership is particularly important to NPS because we know where there is exploration of the mind, through art and music, you will find a direct link to advanced learning and academic success.”

The Family Pass, according to Tamara Remedios, founder of Cool Cat, was designed to provide families with access to over 100 free family events in Newark. Ms. Remedios said, “For me personally, as a Newark preschool mom, I wanted Newark families to take advantage of the cultural and arts scene that has grown tremendously over the last 10 years! The benefits of arts with early childhood will develop their cognitive, creative, social, linguistic and emotional skills. The events also help strengthen parent-child bonds and engage the parent – this is important to empower parents as we take on local control and need to expand parent involvement.”

According to F. Nana Ofosu Amaah, Executive Director of the Office of Early Childhood for NPS, a Newark family needs assessment was conducted to determine how often families with toddlers were engaged in arts and culture in Newark. Parents with children in Pre-Kindergarten programs completed nearly 1,400 Needs Assessment Surveys; of this group, 49 percent were enrolled in Pre-K 3 and 52 percent were Pre-K 4. The data found that Pre-K parents rarely visited cultural institutions. Families had the option to complete the survey in English and Spanish to increase the pool of responses. Overall, this survey is one of the Office of Early Childhood’s most effective tools in gauging parent and community need in order to understand how to create more opportunities and assistance for parents to be active participants in their children’s enrichment and education, according to Ms. Ofosu Amaah.  She added that the questions incorporated the frequency of parent engagement in reading, playing games, visiting a local library/museum and arts & crafts. “It is critical for our youngest learners to be exposed to the arts; the research is clear on the effects of the arts on children’s development, learning and expression.   We are excited and honored to be able to support a Pre-K Mom-preneur in creating the Cool CAT program for fellow Pre-K Families.  We hope this creates a renewed movement of children and families engaging in learning and creating together in the arts.”

The Cool Cat program will serve as a wonderful opportunity for families to connect to arts and culture. It will also help families build social connections within their communities. This program will revolutionize how we engage families in Pre-K, according to Nayibe Capellan, Special Assistant for the NPS Office of Early Childhood.

Additional partners in the Cool Cat Program are the United Way of Essex and West Hudson, the Newark Museum and the Newark Arts Council. Jeremy Johnson, Executive Director of the Newark Arts Council, “Newark is the nation’s top arts destination, being in the top 10 nationally speaks to our prominence in the arts – we must share the special gifts of our city with the children and families of Newark.

In closing, Cool Cat mother Tiffani Ratliff said, “My family LOVES The Cool Cat Family Pass, and as a Mom of three and as a family worker in the city; I believe that this is one of the COOLEST programs that allows us to explore all of the hidden and historic gems around and beyond the City of Newark! From the Hands-On Healthy Foods Workshops to the Maker Space sessions at the Newark Museum- We love & appreciate this program and anticipate many fun, cool, & informative events to come!” Cool Cat stands for Cool Artsy Toddler.