NJCDC's Great Falls College Success Initiative

A nonprofit organization

$6,505 raised by 16 donors

100% complete

$6,000 Goal

The Great Falls College Success Initiative

Founded in 1994 by Bob Guarasci, New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) is a private, nonprofit organization located in Paterson, New Jersey—our state’s third-largest city and also one of its poorest. We serve more than 4,000 children, teens, and families daily through our cradle-to-college pipeline of programs and services in the areas of education, youth development, affordable/supportive housing, and community building.

Now more than ever, a college degree is the surest path to long-term success. Yet low-income and first-generation college students—like those from Paterson—often don’t have the same supports as their peers from more affluent backgrounds. And the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this gap. With support from caring donors who want to make a difference, we hope to create a new program—the Great Falls College Success Initiative—which will help Paterson students thrive in college. The goal of this much-needed program will be to help Paterson youth navigate the challenges of college life and prepare them for the job market.

But we need your help! Starting Monday, July 18th we must raise $6,000 to not only help fund an exciting new project, but also to allow us to potentially earn up to $100,000 in grant money for this new program through the A Community Thrives challenge.

We never want to look back and say we could’ve done more—and what motivates us most is the positive change we see happening each and every day among those we serve. One such story is that of Alysha, who was a member of our Paterson Youth Council leadership development program during high school. As a Youth Council member, she discussed issues facing her and her fellow Paterson teens with public officials, attended college tours, and led numerous community service projects. She ultimately was accepted to Columbia University, from which she graduated this past spring.

When she was about to start her senior year of college, Alysha shared, “Since becoming a student at Columbia, a lot of things have changed for me. While in high school, I was at the top of my class, making straight A’s in honors courses, and I was involved in many extracurricular activities. However, I struggled a lot my first semester at Columbia because I felt like a small fish in a very big pond; I also wasn’t used to asking for help or going to professors’ office hours. I wasn’t used to studying and pulling all-nighters. That’s when I began to feel the full effects of imposter syndrome, doubting my abilities.” 

Alysha continued, “Without the Paterson Youth Council and NJCDC, I would not have seen myself as a leader in the community that could push herself to do better and better. Without these experiences in my life, I doubt I would have had the courage to put my name on these applications and send them to such prestigious colleges.” Alysha continued to reflect on her transition into college. She stated, “As time went on, I began to find myself in this relatively new space as a first-generation low-income student from Paterson. Though I didn’t share similar identities with most of my classmates, I found my place over time. I began to excel in my classes because I wasn’t afraid to ask questions after class or have chats with my professors about how I could improve.”

We’re so proud of our program participants—like Alysha—and hope that, with your help, we can successfully help them transition to college. The Great Falls College Success Initiative will help students like Alysha by providing a support system, including guidance regarding applying to internships, mastering campus life, and conquering any other obstacles they may face.  

Please consider making a donation today to support NJCDC and our Great Falls College Success Initiative. Every dollar counts! 92 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to our cradle-to-college pipeline of programs and services, and by making a donation, you’re bringing us one step closer to ensuring that Paterson college students have the support system needed to thrive!

Organization Data


Organization name

NJCDC's Great Falls College Success Initiative

Tax id (EIN)



Children & Family Community Economic Development


PO BOX 6976