Community Schools

In September 2015, Mercer Street Friends partnered with the Trenton Board of Education and became of the leader of the community schools movement in the Trenton, New Jersey by transforming Luis Munoz Middle School into Luis Munoz Rivera Community Middle School. In 2017, Benjamin C. Gregory Elementary School joined the Community School initiative and in 2022, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School became the newest Mercer Street Friends Community School.

Mercer Street Friends works with the faculty, administration, students, parents, and community partners to improve students’ academic performance, attendance, and social/emotional wellbeing.

While serving as a lead agency within the schools, Mercer Street Friends has forged partnerships with other community organizations to integrate a multitude of services and programs for students, families, and community members that address non-academic barriers to learning. Our partners include: The College of New Jersey, United Way of Greater Mercer County, UIH Family Partners, Princeton-Blairstown Center and Boys and Girls Club of America.

Through this coalition of partners, Mercer Street Friends is able to provide:

  • Trauma-informed mental health counseling for students and their families
  • Truancy and absenteeism prevention programs
  • Mercer Street Friends Food Bank weekend meal bags (Send Hunger Packing)
  • Coordination and expansion of afterschool programs
  • Summer enrichment programs
  • Mentoring and life skills programming
  • Wellness fairs that include vision, health, and dental screenings
  • Parent support groups
  • Computer training and access to the Internet
  • Financial literacy programs and workshops

Princeton Area Community Foundation provided significant support through its All Kids Thrive program to address chronic absenteeism, which can be a major threat to achieving positive educational outcomes for our students. Research shows students who are chronically absent – missing just 2 days per month or 10% of the school year – lose opportunities to succeed throughout their lives. Risk Factors for chronic absenteeism include homelessness, poverty, and chronic illness. Through All Kids Thrive we work to understand what makes a positive impact on chronic absenteeism to mitigate its effects on reading skills, math test scores, and dropout rates. Since its inception in 2017 through 2019, chronic absenteeism decreased by 18% at Luis Munoz-Rivera Community Middle School. Curriculums to address this issue included afterschool opportunities, as well as weekend and summer programming.