A new chapter in Newark

With a bold vision, strong leadership, and deep community engagement, Newark is working towards a strong economic future for all residents. Joining Newark in 2015, Braven is proud to be a partner in this community-wide effort.

Braven – Newark Jobs Report (2020)

The Work Ahead

Newark is poised for a renaissance, but only if all local talent thrives. The city’s established companies are growing, mixed-use development is booming and start-ups are being incubated. Yet 30% of Newark’s residents are living below the poverty line and 20% of Black residents are unemployed. Braven has joined forces with Rutgers-University Newark and local employers to help the Newark community meet its ambitious goals around college and career success.

An Innovative University Partnership

Chancellor Nancy Cantor and her team at Rutgers University – Newark have partnered with Braven since Fall 2015, and, to date, Braven has served more than 700 Rutgers – Newark students. Braven Fellows receive 2 elective credits for taking the Accelerator course. In the 2018-2019 school year, 93% of Braven Fellows identified as people of color and 58% were first-generation college students.

Employers fueling a new generation of local leaders

With a mix of well-established companies and start-ups, Newark employers are looking for innovative talent solutions to help them hire a new generation of local talent and ensure the strength of their community. With an anchor employer partnership with Prudential and strong support from companies ranging from Enterprise to Audible to College Board, local employers are leveraging Braven’s professional development opportunities for their employees while helping to build their future talent pipeline.

The Newark Braven Community

Our Fellows, volunteers, Employer Partners and University Partner are working together to ensure all college graduates are set-up for success.


Accelerator and Post-Accelerator Fellows


of Rutgers-Newark Braven Fellows are persisting in or have graduated from college


of Braven Fellows still in school have had a career aligned internship within the last year

Newark Area Schools

Rutgers University – Newark

  • Dates:  September 1, 2020 – December 15, 2020
  • Final Enrollment Deadline: September 1, 2020
  • First Week of Class – Fall 2020: Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday, September 1/2/4

Newark Employer Partners

Our employer partners encourage their employees to participate in Braven’s professional development and engagement opportunities, sponsor events and learning experiences, provide access to externship, internship and full-time opportunities, and offer critical financial support.

Anchor Partners

Deloitte sponsored Mock Interview Nights, treks, and pro bono projects in Chicago and the Bay Area.


LinkedIn has hosted networking events, recruited hundreds of volunteers, sponsored our Summit, donated product, and opened up their API, enabling us to track our Fellows’ job success over time. Braven is a proud member of LinkedIn’s Network Gap Coalition.

LinkedIn Social Impact

Prudential became Braven’s first anchor employer partner to help build a pipeline of strong talent and provide opportunities for students to be career-ready in Newark, their headquarters for more than 140 years.


Salesforce is an anchor partner committed to the idea that the next generation of leaders needs to emerge from everywhere. The company was a seed funder of Braven NYC. They have also hosted student events in NYC, Chicago, and the Bay Area and sponsored the Career Booster nationally.



Keystone Partner

ADP employees have served as Mock Interviewers for Newark Fellows.


AEA Investors helped us serve more students at Rutgers University-Newark.

AEA Investors

The College Board sponsored the Newark Capstone Celebration and included Braven in their employee giving campaign.

The College Board

UBS sponsored Mock Interviews in Chicago and Newark and the Career Booster nationally.



Innovation Partners

Impact Partners


Access Partners

Newark Supporters

Generous investments from our supporters fuel our model and complement the financial support we receive from our university and employer partners.

$250,000 – $999,999

Sarah Peter

Susan & Thomas Dunn

$100,000 – $149,999

$50,000 – $99,999

Arbor Brothers

John & Wendy Cozzi

$20,000 – $49,999


$5,000 – $19,999

Edison Foundation

Guggenheim Partners

Nick & Ellie Colucci

UBS sponsored Mock Interviews in Chicago and Newark and the Career Booster nationally.



Alice Ricks

Benevity Community Impact Fund

Deep Patel

Desiree Vazquez Barlatt

Fuad Ligali

Hakim Thompson

Heidi Eggert

Isabel Siragusa

Jeffrey Key

Kim Johnson

Matt Iversen

Shadene Grant

Shannon Birk Jibaja

Sue Kalman

Thomas Lewis Brown


Newark Team

Alina Yang

Alina Yang

  • Site Director, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Alina oversees Braven program implementation at Rutgers University-Newark. Alina ensures the successful execution of the Accelerator course, recruits and trains volunteers, and builds and supports partnerships with the university, employer partners, and other stakeholders.


Jessica McKenzie

Jessica McKenzie

  • External Affairs Manager, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Lissete Estrada

Lissete Estrada

  • Program Manager, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Lissete oversees all student recruitment and the overall student experience of Braven at Rutgers University-Newark. She runs operations and logistics for Learning Labs and Braven events, as well as overseeing the Post-Accelerator experience (student club and e-board).


Vince Marigna

Vince Marigna

  • Executive Director, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Newark Board of Directors

Matt Iversen

Matt Iversen

  • Braven Newark Board Chair
  • Associate Vice President, Wells Fargo

Matthew Iversen is a Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors.  He and his team focus on the wealth management needs of families, privately held businesses, and foundations.  Prior to joining Wells Fargo Advisors, he and his team worked at Merrill Lynch Bank of America.  

Matt was born and raised in Montclair, NJ.  He graduated from Connecticut College in 2000 with a double major in Government and Spanish.  Upon graduating, he worked on Al Gore’s Presidential campaign and the subsequent election recount in Florida. After the recount ended, Matt went to work for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in Washington, DC.  The following year Matt returned to New York City to complete a year-long Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. 

Driven by a belief that strong democracies are based upon social justice and access to high-quality education for all children, Matt joined Teach For America in 2003 and taught in the Bronx.  Matt spent six years teaching at his original placement school PS 170. He consistently led his students to achieve 1.5-2 years of growth. His students, unfortunately, often regressed or stagnated academically in the years after leaving his classroom.   This harsh reality led Matt to seek out a teaching environment that ensured positive growth for all students year after year. 

So in 2009, Matt joined a small team of like-minded educators tasked with founding KIPPNJ’s first elementary school SPARK Academy in Newark, NJ.  Matt along with eight other teachers and their school leader, Joanna Belcher, set out to establish a consistent, results-driven educational pipeline for students in Newark, NJ.  Matt spent six years teaching at SPARK Academy bringing the school to and through full growth, serving over 500 children in grades K-4. After 12 fulfilling years in the classroom, Matt changed careers in 2015 to build a practice in Wealth Management.  

Matt currently lives in Montclair, NJ with his wife and daughter.  He serves on the boards of the Montclair Film Festival, Teach For America NJ, and Braven.  

Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn

Semi-Retired Teacher, Community Volunteer

Susan Dunn is a retired elementary school teacher who has spent the past 15 years as an active volunteer and philanthropic supporter focused on educational opportunities for children in under-served communities. She volunteers twice a week in the KIPP schools in Newark, NJ with students in elementary and middle schools.

Although raised in California and Washington state, Susan lived in New Jersey for 2 decades and continues to have strong connections there through her board service with Teach for America: New Jersey, The Nature Conservancy, and Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties. Susan is herself a “Big Sister” and she and her “Little Sister” have been matched for 8 years. Susan serves on the national and Newark boards of BRAVEN, a program to empower college students with skills for strong first jobs. Through the Braven experience, Susan has expanded her volunteering to colleges and now serves on the Trustee Board of Spelman College, a women’s HBCU in Atlanta. In New York City, where Susan now lives, she serves on the board of Soho Rep., an innovative small theater.

Susan taught at Kent Place School and The Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey. Prior to her career in education, Susan worked at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Media Planning on accounts like Mattel Toys, Kimberley Clark and American Express.

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer, KIPP New Jersey

Ryan is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KIPP New Jersey and was the founding principal of TEAM Academy, a KIPP middle school in Newark, New Jersey’s South Ward. Prior to founding TEAM Academy, Hill was a Teach For America corps member in New York City, where he taught sixth grade.

He is a winner of the Bank of America Local Heroes Award and the New Schools Venture Fund Impact Award. Ryan is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and he holds an M.Ed. in Education Leadership from National Louis University. He is also a graduate of the Broad Academy for Urban School Leadership.

Solomon Steplight

Solomon Steplight

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Prepfoleo

Solomon is an entrepreneur, tech aficionado and education advocate who has spent his career creating opportunities for students and parents. After earning a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania, Steplight went on to lead a number of education software startups. He then turned to public service, managing the finances of both Newark (under Mayor Cory Booker) and Hoboken – improving the latter’s credit rating from near junk bond status to AA+.

He currently serves as COO and CFO of the national nonprofit Girls Who Code, where he strives to shrink the gender and racial achievement gap in tech.

Rick Radice

Rick Radice

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, Prudential Financial

Rick Radice is the Chief Operations Officer for Law, Compliance, Business Ethics, External Affairs (LCBE). Radice provides day-to-day leadership and management of the service organization dedicated to supporting the 700+ associates of LCBE. Radice also serves on the PRU/Rutgers University Advisory Council where he provides strategic support of the BRAVEN program rollout at Rutgers-Newark. Recently named member of BRAVEN’s Newark, NJ Board of Directors.

Most recently, Radice was the primary contact with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s examination staff in connection with Prudential’s prior designation as a non-bank systemically important financial institution (SIFI). Previously, Radice led the Global Business Solutions Center which provides consulting services to support individual or cross-business strategic initiatives. Radice also served as the executive chairperson of Prudential’s Project Management Council from 2006 – 2016. During the last 25 years, Radice has led or been a part of teams that have successfully completed more than 90 strategic initiatives for Prudential’s businesses. Radice has also managed various operations functions including the company’s Mail & Imaging and Executive Transportation Services departments.

Before joining Prudential, Radice was a licensed financial advisor for PNC Financial and CitiStreet. His responsibilities included managing retirement plans for individuals as well as employees of various state and local municipalities.

Radice holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Rutgers University.

Jonathan B. Simon

Jonathan B. Simon

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Executive Director – Head of Student Strategy Advancing Black Leaders, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Jonathan Simon is an Executive Director on the Advancing Black Leaders team at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He is responsible for leading the Student Strategy, which includes a portfolio of initiatives and programs to increase acquisition and retention of black talent. Primarily, Jonathan partners with campus recruiting and university relations teams to identify and coordinate recruitment efforts that support firm-wide campus hiring initiatives. In his role, Jonathan is also charged with deepening strategic partnerships across internal and external campus recruiters, diversity leaders, stakeholders and recruiting staff. Additionally, Jonathan is responsible for JPMorgan Chase’s firmwide recruitment strategy at HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities).

Jonathan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role. In prior leadership roles at Citi, he was a Director in Corporate & Investment Banking in the Global Public Sector group and, previously, was the Head of Diversity and Employee Programs for Citi’s Institutional Clients Group.

Jonathan remains actively engaged with several professional and non-profit organizations, which includes serving as Chairman of Montclair Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees in Montclair, NJ; member of the Art Acquisitions Committee of the Montclair Art Museum; Trustee of Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ; member of the Advisory Board of the Honors Program at the Howard University School of Business in Washington, DC; He is a former member of the Acquisitions Committee of the Studio Museum of Harlem, and a former member of the Board of the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) in New York City.

Jonathan is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and holds an Honors Degree in Finance. He is married to his wife of 17 years, Sidney, and has two children – McKenzie and Jackson.

Newark Stories

Braven + Rutgers-Newark=”The American Dream.”

Braven, a nonprofit founded in 2013 with a mission to empower first-generation college students, particularly low-income students of color, has something to celebrate. According to its new 2020 Newark Jobs Report, in 2019, 130 Braven Fellows graduated from Rutgers-Newark University and 75% of graduates have had “strong job attainment” within six months of graduation, compared to 46% of their peers.

Read More

Braven-Newark Fellows Outpace Peers in Quality Economic Opportunity Attainment for Second Year in a Row

Fellows graduating from their university-embedded program at Rutgers University-Newark are outpacing their peers by 30% in economic opportunity attainment.

Read the Full Story

Confessions of a Leadership Coach

I’m an LC, I’m 30 years old, I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in English and have the most awesome company where I’m mentored by two brilliant women. But here’s my confession: I gain my most valuable skills from volunteering with Braven.

Read the Full Story

Contact the Newark Team

Braven – Newark
c/o Teach For America
50 Park Place, Suite M200
Newark, NJ 07102
Email: vince@bebraven.org

Braven Accelerator: Fall 2020

Rutgers University – Newark


Sophomore and first-year transfer students are preferred, but the course is open to all undergraduate students in all majors who are:

  • In good academic standing and able to register for a 3-credit elective course during the semester
  • Able to meet once a week on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 6pm-8pm during the semester
  • Able to commit an average of 4-5 hours a week to this course
  • Able to attend our signature ‘Storytelling as Leadership’ event on Saturday, September 19 from 9:30am – 4pm

Course Description

This course prepares students for the increasingly competitive, globalized job marketplace. Through online and peer learning, interactive experiences, and reflection, students will build meaningful networks, discover their innate leadership, and cultivate the “hard” and “soft” skills and habits of mind needed to thrive in twenty-first-century workplaces. This course will require your commitment. Nothing good comes easy, but this course will be equally rewarding as it is challenging.

Course Section

The Braven Accelerator is a 3-credit elective course that meets Tuesday or Wednesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. The course is housed under the HLLC:

  • HLLC Special Topics II: Braven Accelerator

Additional Events

In addition to the weekly Tuesday or Wednesday class, the following activities are a part of the Accelerator:

  • Saturday, September 19, 2020, 9:30am – 4pm: Storytelling As Leadership Workshop

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Exercise habits to persist through and thrive beyond college
  • Know and demonstrate the skills and mindsets employers hire for
  • Navigate the workplace
  • Build a record of achievement and apply skills to land a career-accelerating internship or research opportunity
  • Expand personal and professional networks
  • Lead with their assets and values


The course takes place on the RU-N campus. The final room location will be on your schedule and sent via email before the course begins.

Enroll Now

Volunteer in Newark

We are looking for professionals from all fields who are willing to share their career experience, personal stories, and unique talents with our diverse and driven Fellows.

All volunteer opportunities will be virtual while social distancing orders are in effect. To receive alerts about upcoming volunteer opportunities:


Please contact alina@bebraven.org with questions.