"New Jersey’s inner city schools are facing a massive crisis. One in five young people living in or near New Jersey’s inner cities do not complete their high school or college education (The Star-Ledger, October 15, 2008). In fact, in some of our largest cities, over fifty percent of students do not graduate from high school, and many of those who do, are not prepared to continue their education and to compete successfully for job opportunities. These young people are left without hope, thus denying our society and economy of diversity and new talent. Young men, in particular, who could have been assets to our future become liabilities through rising crime and rising health care costs, thus increasing the demand for state aid "(Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earning, Issue Brief by The Alliance for Excellent Education, August 2006).
Founded as a formal program in 1993, The Thomas J. Griffin Bridges Program provides educational, financial, and social support to enable academically talented, financially limited young men from Newark, East Orange, Orange, and Irvington, to attend Seton Hall Preparatory School, the state’s oldest all boys Catholic Prep School. The Griffin Bridges Program is specifically designed to meet the needs of inner city young men, regardless of race or creed, by providing them with an environment where they can learn, develop, and become productive citizens. In addition to a four-year commitment in financial aid, scholars and their families are provided with a formal and extensive support network which includes:
|An Alumni Mentoring Program|
Seton Hall Prep alumni who volunteer, provide guidance, and are readily available to GB Scholars. The mentor-student relationship is intended to motivate the student not only to succeed academically, but also to gain a more positive perspective on his potential in life by helping students explore various career options and acting as a soundboard for students’ ideas. The mentor makes a commitment to establish a personal relationship with the student and his family. Each Griffin Bridges Scholar is paired with a mentor throughout his four years at The Prep.
|Peer “Big Brother” Program|
Big Brothers provide day-to-day support for Freshman and Sophomore Griffin Bridges Scholars. Some of the specific responsibilities include: establishing a standing appointment with their “Little Brothers” twice a week, provide tutoring and academic support when needed, and keeping a positive outlook in order to help build self-esteem and confidence. Scholars become Big Brothers in the Program during their Junior and Senior Year.
|A Four-Year Counselor/Social Worker|
Griffin Bridges is fortunate to have, as part of the Program, a full time counselor who is also a social worker. His role is to support the Director in his efforts to promote the overall health and success of our Scholars. He provides four-year counseling, academic support, and college placement services. He also is a resource and support for the scholars’ families, Big Brothers, and mentors.
|A Full-Time Program Director|
The Program Director is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Program. He facilitates all the activities necessary to ensure that the goals and objectives of the Program are met. He maintains a relationship with non-profit and service organizations operating within the students’ communities in order to expand the Program’s network, thus maximizing opportunity for students in the Griffin Bridges Program.
|The Griffin Bridges Advisory Committee|
The Griffin Bridges Advisory Committee
The Griffin-Bridges Advisory Committee is a group of committed individuals who volunteer their time to assist with all the aspects of the program. In addition to attending our functions, the group meets several times a year to work on program policy, fundraising, event planning, decision-making and plotting the future of the program. They are the core support group for Griffin Bridges.
M. Randall Strickland ’81
Managing Director, Consultant Relations · Principal Global Investors
Victor Afanador ‘92
Attorney · Lite, DePalma and Greenberg
Portfolio Manager Gagnon Securities · Gagnon Securities, LLC
Sgt. Ronald S. Glover
Director of Public Information · Newark Police Department
James L. Orsini ’81
CEO · Single Touch Interactive, Inc.
Nicholas Scalera ’59
Former State Director, DYFS · Scalera Consulting Services
Hon. Nina M. Wells, Esq. H’03
Former Secretary of State · State of New Jersey
Kelli A. Griffin-Hutchinson H’08
Daughter of the late Thomas J. Griffin ‘59
John F. Castano ’88
Chief of Staff · NJ SEEDS
Rich Greene ’90
Social Worker · East Orange Public Schools
Shavar Jeffries ’92
Newark School Board President
Associate Professor of Law · Seton Hall University – School of Law
Melvin Sarkor ’01
Architect · Arcari + Iovino
Joseph W. Walsh ’61
Former President · The Amelior Foundation
Robert Gaccione '88
Senior VP and Market Executive
Msgr. Michael E. Kelly ’57
Headmaster, Seton Hall Prep
Dean of Faculty, Seton Hall Prep
Director, Griffin-Bridges Program
Former Assistant. Headmaster & History Teacher
Seton Hall Prep
Matthew Cannizzo ‘90
Dean of Studies and Director of Admissions
Seton Hall Prep
Director of Institutional Advancement · Seton Hall Prep
Acting as a team, this vast support system affords a unique infrastructure that ensures each student has the necessary support he needs to thrive.
The results are palpable. The Griffin Bridges Program has successfully enrolled and graduated 65 young men in the last 19 years. As a group, our students have garnered every commencement and academic award that Seton Hall Prep bestows on graduation—Valedictorian, the Award for Academic Excellence, subject area medallions for excellence in Calculus, Social Studies, Theology, Classics, Humanities, Art, and Literary Achievement, among others. The list of universities attended by these graduates reads like a list of the US News and World Report’s Top Colleges—Princeton, Georgetown, Syracuse, Pratt, Pitt, Duke, Holy Cross, Cornell and more. We are also proud to report that our Program Alumni are giving back to their local communities and the inner-city as professionals, sponsors, mentors, advisory committee members, volunteers, and teachers.
With 100% of its Scholars accepted to four year colleges, Griffin Bridges is changing the paradigm for male students from the inner-city. Seton Hall Prep and Griffin Bridges wishes to continue its commitment to young men who want to succeed.
Nineteen years after its inception, Griffin Bridges continues to connect young men from the inner city to opportunity and success.
For more information please contact:
Ivan Arocho, Director- Griffin Bridges Program
Seton Hall Preparatory School
120 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, New Jersey 07052
Phone: 973.325.PREP, ext. 6784
Freshman Daniel E. Vazquez reflects on his experience of Griffin Bridges during our Cocktail Reception with Mayor Cory A. Booker on October 15, 2009
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, sponsors, and friends of the Griffin Bridges Program. My name is Daniel Elijah Vazquez. I am 14 years old and I am a freshman at Seton Hall Prep. I was born to Manuel and Nelly Vazquez. At the age of one, I lost my mother to cancer. Since then, I have lived with my dad and my older brother Victor who this past August moved away to college. He is attending The College of New Jersey. My dad has been battling with cancer since I was in 3rd grade. Life has not always been easy but we have made it together.
I really wanted to come to Seton Hall Prep because it has a great reputation for academics and athletics. But Seton Hall Prep is much more than that. With all its activities, clubs, events to take part in, The Prep offers students a great opportunity to explore their interests and excel. I’ve been fortunate to have become a member of the Griffin Bridges Program which is much more than a provider of financial aid. It is a family, a group of people that you can rely on through tough times, a group of people who can brighten your day with a compliment or a helping hand.
Griffin Bridges plays a vital part in the lives of its members and it gives us opportunities to succeed by expanding our horizons and building connections with events like these. Not in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined speaking before a man of such national and international acclaim as Mayor Cory Booker, a man who’s recognized as a figure of leadership and hope, a man who’s earned the trust of the people of his city and people throughout the nation, a man who cares genuinely for the people of Newark, and a supporter of our program and the lives affected by it. Being here tonight means a lot to me and I have this great Griffin Bridges Program to thank.”
|McHerdy’s Story |
Junior McHerdy Saint-Germain reflects on his experience of Griffin Bridges for Mayor Booker.
“The neighborhood I grew up in was a tough one. Crime and gang initiations were part of day to day life. Abandoned apartments served as workshops and homes to local crack dealers and gang bangers. Dilapidated houses dotted the landscape. Clubs and bars seduced the minds of the young, enticing them to believe that “this is the real world”. I was often awakened by gunshots, at times confusing them with fireworks when I was younger. I lived in a city immersed in grief and despair for many, yet now filled with the hope and the potential to become so much more than just another hood community.
As a second generation Haitian-American, I know first hand that living in America is not as easy as it sounds. Freedom comes with a price- a lot of hard work. My parents know that. My mother’s day begins at 5 am. Throughout the day she finds herself traveling back and forth from East Hanover, only to stop by West Orange to pick me up from school. After a hard day, she comes home and then gets ready for the next day to do it all over again. She has been doing this for the past fourteen years. I hardly see my father on most days. When I leave for school, he is still asleep after a long day’s work and when I go to bed he is still working. My father was in the taxi business for most of his life, and now he is a driver for the Super Shuttle service.
I knew I had a choice: to go along with what other kids were doing on the streets or set goals for myself and soar to new heights. Griffin Bridges affected me in a very positive way. As I began my freshman year I was anxious. At times I felt as if I did not belong. Griffin Bridges helped me transition into high school and gave me an office, access to technology, supplies and tools to be successful. I was also supported by a network of students and mentors; I was given role models to look up to and form relationships with. These pieces were essential to building my self esteem and creating a community.
As a Junior at The Prep, I continue looking forward to a future filled with opportunity and success. I am now in the process of researching colleges and universities. My college choices include Boston University, Northeastern University, Cornell, and NYU, however there are many more on my list. I want to major in Pre-Med, with a focus on Biology and Neuroscience. I would like to minor in African-American Studies. My dream is to become a surgeon and will do anything, and everything, to make that become a reality. I know I am going to be faced with obstacles, go through trials and tribulations, but that will never hold me back. These three years have taught me that I am not defined by where I come from, but who I choose to become. This knowledge is what can change my community, my nation, my world."
Eligibility for the Griffin Bridges Program
|Who is an Ideal Candidate?|
In order to be considered for acceptance into the Griffin Bridges Program, students must be residents of Newark, East Orange, Orange, or Irvington. An ideal candidate must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement through his elementary school education. A candidate must show great interest in his own education, possess personal motivation, demonstrate the ability to work as a team player, and exhibit a genuine desire to be a part of the Seton Hall Prep community. Eligible candidates for the Griffin Bridges Program must also score in the top 50% of all eighth graders applying to Seton Hall Prep on their Entrance Exam.
Who is Eligible?
Eligibility is determined by family size and household income. To financially qualify for the Griffin Bridges Program a family's annual income should typically not exceed the amount on the income chart below.
Household Size Annual Income
For each additional dependent add $7,500
If the family is not within the given financial parameters, but believes that consideration is still warranted, Griffin Bridges will review the application on an individual basis.
We realize there are many other factors that may affect a family's income status, e.g. mortgage payments, whether or not they have IRA accounts, if they have other educational expenses, etc. Our assessment through the Preliminary Application for Financial Assistance and the Parents' Financial Statement from School and Student Service for Financial Aid will give us a better grasp of their needs and will be made available to them in the application process.
|How to Apply|
In order to obtain your Griffin Bridges application, contact Ivan Arocho, Director, by phone at 973.325.6784 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Students should contact the Office of Admission, submit their Seton Hall Prep application, and set a date for the Entrance/Placement Test no later than December 8, 2012 (Please schedule your test for November 17th or December 8th).
Upon acceptance to the school, qualifying applicants will be interviewed in late December (during Christmas break) and early January to determine their acceptance into the Program.
Griffin Bridges Celebrates Twenty Years of Success