Newark, NJ, population 277,000, is a great city with massive problems.

Newark’s poverty rate is a staggering 25%.  Compare this with a city like Seattle, WA, with more than double the population but less than half the poverty rate at 11%.  Or compare Newark to its neighbor, Nutley, NJ (a safe suburb only 4 miles away) with a 4% poverty rate.  Why do some areas have high poverty rates while others do not?

In 2010, the FBI reported that Newark had the 8th highest murder rate in the US.  Newark’s schools are failing with a high school graduation rate of 22%.  Why do cities with high poverty typically have high crime rates and low performing schools?


Many Newark construction projects have been touted as the key to the city's revival.  In addition, over the past 40 years, Newark has been repeatedly described as being in a "renaissance."  Has any of this been true considering the poverty rate has remained unchanged?


What’s the answer to really reviving a city like Newark?  Does the answer lie in improving the lives of its residents?  If so, why isn't this a priority and how can this be accomplished?


Newark isn’t the only impoverished city.  In New Jersey alone, consider the high poverty rates in cities like New Brunswick (26%) Trenton (27%) and Camden (36%).   In 2010, the US had a population of over 312 million people, and a poverty rate of 15.1%.  With 46.2 million people living in poverty (one in six residents) why isn’t poverty a national emergency? (view state and county-level poverty rates)

Asking these questions and finding the answers is why Newarkers/filmmakers Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno, created the “Newark Poverty Reduction Conference.”  Hosted by Rutgers-Newark on April 6, 2011, the event convened scholars, in a public forum, to begin the dialogue to tackle poverty reduction in NJ's inner cities, with a focus on Newark.  It provided the opportunity to collect and refine the knowledge that these scholars received during their participation in the public screenings of the filmmakers' Revolution '67 Newark documentary film in the NJCH-sponsored "Justice: A Dialogue Through Film" 2009-10 series.  

Conference Program::

  1. 1.Scholars gave a presentation that addressed poverty reduction while answering the following questions:

  1. How can your topic help reduce poverty in Newark?

  2. Why do Newark and other US urban cities with high poverty typically have high crime and poor educational performance?

  3. Has a US urban city significantly reduced poverty?  If so, how and in what time frame?

  1. Watch the presentations

  1. 2.The audience then engaged in dialogue with the scholars.

  1. Watch the scholar/audience dialogue

  1. 3.After lunch, the audience watched Revolution '67, while the scholars worked in breakout groups to answer the following questions

  1. What are 3 concrete solutions to reduce Newark's poverty rate by 10 percent in 10 years?

  2. Is funding needed?  If so, source?

  3. Who should implement this plan?

  4. What are the measurable goals?

  5. What’s 1 benefit of poverty reduction to the middle class?

  1. Listen to the breakout sessions

  1. 4.After Revolution '67, scholars presented the results of their breakout sessions.

  1. Watch the presentations

  1. 5.In conclusion, the audience engaged in a closing dialogue with the scholars.

  1. Watch the scholars/audience dialogue

About the Conference

Newark Poverty Reduction Conference: Historical Perspectives and Strategies

April 6, 2011

Montclair, NJ

with funding from


Watch Scholar Presentations

Watch Conference Recommendations

Scholars' Topics

Listen to Scholar Breakout Sessions

Watch Morning Dialogue

Watch Afternoon Dialogue

Conference Photos

Conference Solutions

This project was made possible by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations on this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

SEE: Newark Today Issues
and what you can do about them../REVOLUTION_67/Newark_Today_Issues.html

Statistic Update. As of 2014:

Newark Poverty - 32%

Newark Unemployment - 15%

Newark Murder Rate - 3rd in US

April 6, 2011

Reduce Poverty in Inner Cities: 

Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno at TEDxNJIT