Thanks to my village, I'm #ready.

My name is Kiara Page and I’m a senior at Barringer High School. After I graduate this month, I’ll begin the Educational Opportunity Fund program at Montclair State University, where I’m going to study psychology. When I think about my high school experience, three words come to mind -- exciting, busy, and educational. These past four years have connected me to other students, to my passion for social justice and youth advocacy, and, most importantly, to my future as a college student -- the first in my family.

They say it takes a village, and it’s true. As a first generation college student like me, you need a large support system to make it through high school, navigate the college application and enrollment processes, and feel prepared for the future. For me, this support system was both inside and outside of Barringer. For three years, I was part of the Sadie Nash program - a sisterhood academy where I learned about social injustice, how to be a leader, and, through Nash U, the different types of scholarship and grant opportunities available to students. Through the Gem Project, I expanded my passion for social justice. After studying mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline, I created an art installation and hosted an art gallery with my peers where we had an open discussion about the art and the social justice topics. This helped me to build friendships and bonds and strengthened my village. I was also part of Newark Youth Court, dealing with actual students and issues like truancy. This helped me realize that everyone doesn’t go through the same thing. People have different experiences and traumas, but it’s important to bring people together and try to understand.

Outside of school and my after-school activities, my parents helped round out my village. I’m so glad that my Mom was involved. She attended every conference and meeting and advocated for me and for my future. This made me realize how much she cares about what I’m doing in life. Also, my mom was a role model for other parents. She became part of their village, and motivated other parents to get involved and learn more about the school and what’s going on.

There is a sense of urgency in the country today, especially among young people like me. We are the next generation. Students complain about politics, our leadership, and the state of education. But they’re not as involved as they could be to make a difference. We can all take action in different ways, even if it just means spreading information, attending a protest or an event, and using your social media platforms to speak your mind. We need to motivate all young people to take those steps and most importantly, to vote.  I’m registered to vote and I’ve already voted -- in the Newark Board of Education election this past April.

I am so grateful to be able to participate in Project Ready’s #1000CarePackages initiative and give back to the village that has shaped who I am today. I hope I can make a difference and help make our city, state, and our country a better place in the future. I’m ready for college, and ready to tackle my future and turn my passion for social justice into action.


Project Ready, a community organization founded this year, hosted a “1,000 Newarkers Vote By Mail Luncheon” today at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, New Jersey.

The luncheon brought together more than 120 Newarkers to celebrate the success of Project Ready’s first initiative, which helped over 1,000 Newark residents register to vote by mail. Attendees were also able to register to vote by mail before the luncheon as they signed in for the event. Featured speakers at the event included State Senator Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, Board of Education President Josephine Garcia, Newark School Board Members Flohisha Hill and Asia Norton, Google Executive Valeisha Butterfield Jones, and Jocelyn Harmon, Co-Founder of BlackHer.


Project Ready NJ Celebrates 1,000 Vote by Mail Registrations for Newark School Board Election

Author: Kei-Sygh Thomas, TAPinto Newark
Date: March 7th, 2019
Category or tag: Relevant News
Blurb: Growing up on Avon Avenue in Newark’s South Ward, Shennell McCloud said the focus in her home was to get a good education, give back when possible, and do the best that she could. She had siblings, clothing, food, and love thanks to her two doting parents.Yet, somewhere between the values of hard work and altruism, she missed a critical lesson about civic responsibility. “We didn’t have time to focus on voter education, government, policy. It is people like me who become the suppressed voter because I am undereducated, unaware of my rights, unaware of my power,” said McCloud.


Voting by mail should be easier, group says. Don’t N.J. legislators want a more inclusive democracy?

Author: Shennell McCloud, Star-Ledger
Date: April 11th, 2019
Category or tag: Op-Ed
Blurb: Newark is New Jersey’s largest city, but it has among the lowest voter turnouts in the state. This under-representation, which is common among communities of color and low-income communities, undermines our democracy. Through voting reform and civic action, we must break down the barriers to voting.


I Want To Raise My Children In A World Where People of Color Are Empowered To Vote: Here’s How We Get It Done!

Author: Laura Waters, NJ Left Behind
Date: February 8th, 2019
Category or tag: Op-Ed
Blurb: In Newark, New Jersey (where I live), voter participation is shockingly low in elections that have a massive impact on our city. Take last year’s election for the Newark Board of Education, for example just 7,000 of registered voters turned out to vote, despite the fact that Newarkers were electing the first locally-controlled school board in twenty years. People wonder why it takes so long to create the change we seek in our schools. This is why. If we’re going to have truly representative leadership, we need more people engaged in local elections that have a profound impact on our children.


New Community Advocacy Group Project Ready, Hosts “1,000 Newarkers Vote By Mail” Luncheon

Author: Laura Waters, NJ Left Behind
Date: March 4, 2019
Category or tag: Relevant News
Blurb: Shennell McCloud’s new community organization, Project Ready NJ, hosted a celebration of its successful first initiative: to get 1,000 Newarkers, mostly women of color, to register to vote by mail. Why? Because Shennell and her enthusiastic team believe voting is a critical issue of access and equity, as well as a key part of its mission of serving the families of Newark. Never ones to waste an opportunity, staffers were on hand to help attendees register to vote by mail right at the event.