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Kean University

Kean Makes History as Urban Research University with Funding for Three Initiatives in Federal Spending Bill

Kean Hall on Kean University's main campus in Union, New Jersey.

Kean University will receive more than $4 million for a series of new initiatives tied to its new designation as an urban research university under the federal spending bill signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The $1.7 trillion dollar spending plan includes a total of $4.25 million specifically for new Kean projects, including a higher education program for middle and high school students and their families; a neighborhood revitalization project in Trenton; and expanded research facilities for life science and biotech startups housed at Kean.

“As the state’s urban research university, Kean is a leader in serving students from all backgrounds and conducting research that makes a difference in our communities,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “We are grateful to federal lawmakers who recognize the contribution that Kean makes in New Jersey and beyond. This funding will strengthen New Jersey’s technology economy, open more opportunities for students and revitalize one of our state’s great cities.”

U.S. Representative Donald Payne Jr., from New Jersey's 10th Congressional District, sponsored a total of $1 million that will support the Kean Generation-2-Generation (G2G) Parent University initiative, which aims to develop a higher education program and resource center for the parents, caregivers and family members of middle and high school students.

“I am proud to have secured this money to help Kean University’s G2G program and resource center,” Payne said. “I know this initiative will be a great benefit to the university and our entire community as it connects families to resources to help students succeed and transform their lives through higher education."

The G2G initiative will involve three K-12 feeder programs and other programs that are part of the University’s Entrepreneurial Education Initiatives (EEI) division.

“Kean is committed to building a successful pathway to higher education for all children in New Jersey, and we know that family involvement is absolutely critical to that effort,” said Sancha K. Gray, Ed.D., senior vice president for EEI at Kean. “The Generation-2-Generation program is a holistic approach that allows us to connect the entire family with interventions and resources to help students and families succeed by disrupting the cycle of poverty for generations to come.”

U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, who represents the state’s 12th Congressional District, sponsored $750,000 for the Coalport Neighborhood Revitalization Planning initiative to support a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization project in Trenton's East Ward using students from the Michael Graves College of Public Architecture and the Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research. 

“Systemic disinvestment in neighborhoods like Coalport harm us all, especially Black, brown, and low-income communities. The Coalport Neighborhood Revitalization Plan is a step toward reversing this destructive trend,” Coleman said. “As our state’s sole congressional appropriator, I take pride in delivering real change for New Jerseyans, especially for those who need it most. I’m honored to have secured this crucial investment for Coalport and to have played a role in Kean University’s efforts to lift up our communities.”

Joseph Youngblood II, Ph.D., J.D., Kean's senior vice president for external affairs, said the project focuses on developing strategies for reversing the blight caused by redlining in the city’s Coalport neighborhood. Redlining, discriminatory business practices that deterred Black home ownership and reinforced housing segregation, has contributed to distressed cities in New Jersey for decades. 

“The interdisciplinary team conducting this project is committed to involving the community in this important work, which we believe will be transformative not just for Trenton but also for other urban communities,” Youngblood said. “Creating equitable policies and practices is essential to moving our cities forward and Kean has the expertise to bring many solutions to the table through this important work.”

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez sponsored $2.5 million aimed at renovating and expanding the research laboratories and incubator workspaces that are utilized by faculty and by the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship (ILSE), a nonprofit research organization located on Kean’s Union campus. 

“The federal funding bill we passed at the end of last year contains significant wins and critical funding for New Jersey, including $181 million for community projects throughout the state that I secured,” Senator Menendez said. “I was proud to advocate on behalf of Kean University to deliver $2.5 million to expand their incubator workspaces and research laboratories to further establish New Jersey’s state universities as a leader in the STEM field, provide greater opportunities for our students, and enhance partnerships with nonprofits and corporations in the life sciences industry.”

ILSE works with a range of early-stage biotech and pharma companies across the New York/New Jersey metro area.

“Strong federal support is essential to Kean’s growth as an anchor institution in this state, said Kellie LeDet, the University’s chief government affairs officer. “We are grateful that Senator Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, recognizes how important this project will be to advancing our state’s economy.” 

ILSE provides incubator space and accelerator services to life science companies and is also a science-driven research institute working in partnership with major academic, nonprofit and corporate organizations, and with entrepreneurs and regional institutions.

“ILSE helps STEM startups, including early-stage and academic spin-out companies, establish themselves and advance scientific discovery,“ said Keith Bostian, Ph.D., CEO of ILSE and Kean’s associate provost for science and technology. “This funding will support these entrepreneurs and Kean faculty as well as Kean students — many of whom are minorities or first-generation college students — who engage with ILSE companies every year through research collaborations and internships.”