National award recognizes CSE, United Way partnership improving schools


For the second time, a national organization has applauded the work being done by the College of Saint Elizabeth and United Way of Northern New Jersey to help New Jersey’s K-12 students learn and succeed by improving the climate and culture in local schools.

The American Psychological Association awarded its John Kalafat Community Program Award to the two organizations for their partnership on the School Culture and Climate Initiative which is involved in 40 schools across the region serving 17,000 students.

The Initiative is considered one of the most comprehensive in New Jersey for both improving school climates and promoting students’ health and wellness from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Association chose to recognize the Initiative as it exemplifies the work of former Rutgers University professor and psychologist John Kalafat, Ph.D., in building bridges between research and improving the world, creating a positive impact on communities and excellence in crisis intervention, according to the award committee.

Across northern New Jersey, schools have turned to this Initiative to help address what leading experts, the most respected studies and New Jersey’s anti-bullying law say is the foundation for all learning – a healthy school climate.

United Way and CSE work with schools to evaluate their culture and climate, uncover the conditions contributing to the environment and collaborate to create a road map toward sustainable improvement.

“Any district or building principal who wishes for their organization to ascend to new heights should partner up,” said the principal of one local school that has benefited from the project.

The Initiative has also been awarded a national Promising Practice award by the Washington, D.C.-based

In addition, both organizations individually offer complementary programs that expand beyond the Initiative to reach an even wider network of school professionals. United Way’s School Support Network provides free training and networking opportunities for educators across the region to learn and share best practices in creating a positive school climate.

The Center for Human and Social Development at CSE, in partnership with Rutgers University, offers an online professional certificate program and virtual professional learning community for social emotional learning and character development in schools ( The Center also houses a school culture and climate assessment lab which provides a school climate survey and data assessment support to schools.

Mary Colleen Robinson has a communication degree with a concentration in journalism and is currently working as the PR/Social Media Specialist at the College of Saint Elizabeth. 

[interactive_copyright_notice float='left']
[icopyright_horizontal_toolbar float='right']