Toms River Regional Schools today announced a multifaceted partnership with RWJBarnabas Health on a five-year agreement to become the official healthcare partner to the Toms River School District. Through this alliance, RWJBarnabas Health will receive naming rights to the district’s arena on the campus of Toms River High School North, and will collaborate with the district on health and wellness initiatives.
The partnership agreement, which was approved and announced at the Dec. 20 school board meeting, totals $637,500 over the span of five years, and officially begins Jan. 1, 2018.
“RWJBarnabas Health is a trusted name with a significant local presence, and this agreement will truly benefit our students and community,” said Superintendent David Healy. “The revenue for naming rights to the arena– though certainly important and a source of financial stability for our district– is but a small part of what this means. This is more of a partnership than a sponsorship, and what we’re most excited about is to work side-by-side with RWJBarnabas Health in a way that directly and positively impacts our students. Everything from student internships to wellness education to athletic protocol is being discussed, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”
The official name of the 3,200-seat arena has yet to be determined, and an announcement will be made during the first quarter of 2018. A temporary banner will soon be placed on the arena, which will host a handful of major events this winter including the WOBM Christmas Classic basketball tournament and a popular restaurant show.
RWJBarnabas Health will serve as a consultant on planned updates to health-based curriculum, particularly for the STEAM Academy School of Biomedicine, and will work with teachers and staff on training in an effort to support and prepare students for future healthcare positions.
“At RWJBarnabas Health, it is our mission to create healthier communities throughout New Jersey. This partnership provides us with the unique opportunity to collaborate with the Toms River School District in a meaningful way to develop education and wellness opportunities that will directly affect the community,” said Amy Mansue, President of the Southern Region of RWJBarnabas Health. “This will allow both of our organizations to leverage resources to serve the students and their families. We look forward to investing in health education and overall community wellness.”
For the past five years the nearly 20,000-square-foot facility has been known as Pine Belt Arena. That agreement expired last year. The district has maintained a positive working relationship with RWJBarnabas Health over the years, and the two entities were brought together for this particular effort by Fox Run Group, a NJ-based company specializing in sponsorship management. The district contracted for the services of Fox Run Group and its president, Angelo Scialfa, in September 2016 to further expand their efforts in securing alternative revenue sources from corporate sponsorships.
New Career Academies debuted in September at each of the district’s three high schools, with strands and courses that include biological sciences, anatomy and physiology, and the medical arts. Beyond the obvious medical connection, the district and RWJBarnabas Health plan to explore student-centered opportunities in emergency preparedness, sustainability, and cyber security, as well as partnerships for grant programs and wellness initiatives such as blood drives, screenings, nutrition consultation, and youth sports.
“We are excited to partner with Toms River Regional Schools and further expand our outreach efforts in collaboration with the school district,” said Michael Mimoso, MHSA, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer for Community Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. “Community Medical Center has a strong commitment to creating healthier communities and this partnership will provide greater access to health education opportunities – both personal and career related – for students, staff and the community at large. We look forward to furthering this innovative partnership.”
Over the past several years the district has worked extensively to stabilize existing sources of alternative revenue while pursuing new methods to maximize funding opportunities, initiatives fully supported by its school board.
“This partnership agreement is poised to benefit our students, budget, and this community in the short and long term,” said Board President Ben Giovine. “It also highlights our steadfast commitment to alternative funding. In the past year alone, our board has backed successful efforts to join the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) to self-fund over $17 million in energy projects, bring our district corporate offices to full capacity and, now, secure a long-term partnership and naming rights for one of the premier facilities in Ocean County for the next half decade. This is truly something worth celebrating.”
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest healthcare system in New Jersey, and Toms River Regional Schools is the largest suburban school district in the state. The district and RWJBarnabas Health have collaborated on a number of initiatives and events in recent years, including Jersey Shore Makerfest, an annual event since 2015 held at the arena. RWJBarnabas Health is hitting the ground running, already planning its increased involvement for Makerfest 4.0, and working to partake in upcoming special events at the arena in early 2018.