Gov. Phil Murphy was joined in Jersey City Wednesday by officials, executives and other stakeholders to jointly announce the launch of the New Jersey Pay It Forward Program with the New Jersey CEO Council and Social Finance.
The first-of-its-kind in the nation workforce development effort aims to help Garden State residents obtain quality, postsecondary education and training to advance their careers.
Participants will receive zero-interest, no-fee loans at no upfront cost, as well as non-repayable living stipends and wraparound supports to affordably allow them to prepare for good-paying jobs in the health care, information technology (IT) and clean energy sectors.
Utilizing the loans, participants would be able to enroll in credential, certificate and degree programs at one of three inaugural training providers:
- Registered Nursing at Hudson County Community College;
- Cybersecurity at New Jersey Institute of Technology; and
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Welding at Camden County College.
The loan payments would then be circulated back into the fund to “pay it forward” for other students.
“With today’s launch of Pay It Forward, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to model this innovative approach that will help residents obtain family-sustaining jobs and then pay their success forward by supporting future cohorts of students,” said Murphy.
The New Jersey CEO Council, a coalition of chief executive officers from some of the state’s largest and most widely recognized companies, contributed nearly $5 million in funding for the program that was matched by the state in Fiscal Year 2022.
The state committed $2.5 million for Fiscal Year 2023.
“I share the excitement of the governor and my fellow council members about the launch of the Pay It Forward program,” said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, and co-chair of the New Jersey CEO Council. “I am confident this program will help under-resourced New Jerseyans develop valuable skills, access new job opportunities and achieve financial security for their families they may have thought was unattainable.”
Participants who find jobs earning above a specific income threshold will repay the cost of their tuition over time, while any loan balance remaining after five years will be forgiven for borrowers in good standing. Among the non-repayable supports offered by the program are access to an emergency aid fund and mental health counseling services.
“We’re excited to partner with the State of New Jersey and the CEO Council to launch this first-of-its-kind public-private partnership that brings the state’s economic and workforce development priorities together,” said Tracy Palandjian, CEO and co-founder of Social Finance, the nonprofit designing and managing the fund. “This sustainable, innovative fund is helping to advance New Jersey’s business goals while putting the learner’s success at the center of the arrangement.”
“Hudson County Community College is honored to be selected as an inaugural provider for Gov. Murphy’s ‘Pay It Forward’ program,” said Christopher Reber, president of Hudson County Community College. “Our RN program is one of the finest and most successful anywhere. We have committed, experienced faculty who assist students who come from diverse backgrounds and have a variety of learning needs, and we have affiliations with every major, area hospital so students receive clinical experience that prepares them for today’s nursing practice.”
“Pay It Forward will pave the way for more equitable access to opportunities for New Jerseyans seeking to prepare themselves for lucrative careers in high-growth fields,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “This program will also add to New Jersey’s ability to attract savvy companies that recognize the state for its skilled, talented labor pool.”
“Pay It Forward opens career paths to residents who otherwise could not afford them and prepared them for in-demand occupations,” said N.J. Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
The New Jersey Pay It Forward Program plans to partner with additional training providers in the coming months.
“Investing in our residents will not only give them the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families but will also help meet employers’ needs and promote economic development throughout the state,” said Murphy.