Nearly 30% of Newark’s 285,000 residents have not achieved a high school diploma—a rate three times the national average. All The Way Up is reversing this trend by empowering adult learners in Newark and Greater Essex County to achieve their High School Equivalency Certification. We provide small-group tutoring with volunteer tutors to better meet the unique needs of each student. This individualized support results in about a 50% student retention rate, a much higher rate than in most traditional, large-scale group GED educational models.
For many of our students, education truly has transformative potential. A better education leads to higher-paying jobs and long-term financial stability for our students' families. With its accessible and individualized approach, All The Way Up seeks to challenge the obstacles our students have faced in conventional educational paths as members of under-resourced communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color. Together with other community partners, we can create a more equitable and prosperous Newark.
All The Way Up Adult Education Center (ATWU) is a mission and service-based organization that empowers adult learners in Newark, NJ and greater Essex County through individualized training in GED/HSE Test Preparation, Adult Basic Education (ABE), English as a Second Language (ESL), and Job Readiness Skills. We partner with community organizations, granters, and individual donors to directly improve the educational outcomes of our students throughout Essex County.
All The Way Up envisions a world where people come together to inspire and teach each other, co-creating a community where each person is living and working to their full potential. We see a future where all individuals have access to high quality, personalized educational attention, regardless of their identity, financial means and geographic location.
All The Way Up was founded by a think-tank of community organizations and parishes as a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, called Newark Shared Ministries. However, since formalizing as a 501(c)(3) in 2018, we have operated as an independent secular nonprofit. We have 40 wonderful, volunteer tutors, two staff, three GED instructors, and several consultants who come from a variety of backgrounds: retired educators, students at NJIT, Rutgers-Newark Business School and Medical School, working professionals, and others who want to give back to the community.
Staff & Leadership
Chris Whitaker, Executive Director
Christopher Whitaker is Executive Director of All The Way Up Adult Education Center, having been previously hired as Startup Manager in 2015. Chris’ experience as a program director in mission and outreach roles serves ATWU’s vision of creating greater community outreach, visibility, and access to education for the underserved populations of Newark. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree from McKendree University and a master’s degree from Drew University.
Christopher Harlow-Jennings, Program Director
Christopher Harlow-Jennings, Program Director, began as a volunteer, setting up technology for the original classroom. His 15 years of experience in nonprofit program growth and development are assets he brings to ATWU. In addition to program management, Christopher also works with the staff and board on development, volunteer recruitment and training, visioning and strategic planning, and marketing and publicity. Christopher holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a master’s degree from Yale University.
Joan Eilbott, Nonprofit Management Consultant
Joan Eilbott is ATWU’s nonprofit management consultant and works closely with the directors on visioning, process improvement, achieving long-term metric gains, and nonprofit effectiveness. She holds a Ph.D. in Operations Research from N.Y.U., an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Science in Mathematics from Stanford.
Lydia Zapico, Bookkeeper
Lydia joined All The Way Up in January 2021. She has enjoyed a successful post-early retirement career in the non-profit world. For the past 17 years Lydia has served as Finance Manager in 3 churches within the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. In the Spring, Summer and Fall, Lydia can be found at one of the many beautiful golf courses in NJ.
Karin Pittle-Gale, Grantwriter
Karin is a senior marketing professional and writer with experience in magazine publishing, integrated media, events, grant writing and community work. She has approved track record as a project manager and creative problem solver.
Board of Directors
Joe LaVela, President
Christie Zipfel, Secretary
Benita Rountree, Treasurer