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Newark Teacher, Musician Finds Meaning In Nonprofit Work

Patch logo Patch 10/21/2021 Eric Kiefer
Jaleel Ritchwood Jordan, who goes by the stage name JaRich, is a special education teacher in the Newark Public School District. He’s also the founder of a nonprofit, Victim to Victor Outreach. © Photo courtesy of Jaleel Ritchwood Jordan Jaleel Ritchwood Jordan, who goes by the stage name JaRich, is a special education teacher in the Newark Public School District. He’s also the founder of a nonprofit, Victim to Victor Outreach.

NEWARK, NJ — A teacher in Newark continues to find ways to enrich the lives of people in his home city, whether it’s through education, activism or his first love, music.

Jaleel Ritchwood Jordan, who goes by the stage name JaRich, is a special education teacher in the Newark Public School District. He’s also the founder of a nonprofit, Victim to Victor Outreach, which has put together scholarships and organized community events like bookbag drives.

It’s all done with a single mission in mind, he says: inspiring young people to contribute to their communities and keep the cycle of positive change going.

“I believe our students should feel and need to be empowered in order to be ready and prepared to be all that they can, in order to give back to the city that has helped to raise them,” Jordan told Patch.

The Newark native is literally putting his money where his mouth is. During the coronavirus pandemic, Jordan released two albums of new music. He then redirected the proceeds into feeding people experiencing homeless and performing other community outreach.

Through his nonprofit, Jordan has also been able to give out meals and presents during the holidays. And he recently spearheaded a book bag and community prayer drive on Sept. 11th in Newark that he dubbed “The Genesis Explosion,” with the goal of helping people to “get back the basics of community and love.”

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“A lot of what we have done thus far has come out of my very own pocket, using my salary as a special needs educator in Newark to further push initiatives,” Jordan said.

“It’s a grueling task when you have a vision and somehow don’t know how you’re even going to make the vision or dream a reality,” he told Patch. “But we still do the work, and remain steadfast on the purpose of why we do the work we do.”

“There’s no excuse when there are families hungry or hurting, children without proper clothing or parents lacking the financial security or mental wellness to be advocates of change for their situations,” he added.

Jordan isn’t the only educator in Newark with a creative streak and a penchant for social justice. Naseed Gifted, the principal at Malcolm X Shabazz High School, is a two-time Glyph Comic Awards and Urban Action Showcase nominee and the creative force behind the graphic novel “P.B. Soldier: The Awakening.”

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