The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission (NJIHC) was formed by legislative action and signed into law in January 2002. It was founded as the “New Jersey Commission on Italian and Americans of Italian Heritage Cultural and Educational Programs”, P.L. 2001 Chapter 343 Title 18a 4-42. The statute is embodied in Title 18a, Chapter 4, Article 4, Sections 42-46:
It is the policy of the State of New Jersey that the culture, history and heritage of Italians and Americans of Italian Heritage are a proper concern for all people, particularly students enrolled in the schools of this State.
It is desirable to educate our citizens about the positive aspects of the culture, music, art, language, history and heritage of Italians and Americans of Italian Heritage.
It is appropriate and desirable that programs, workshops, institutes, seminars and other teacher-training activities for the study of the culture, history and heritage of Italians and Americans of Italian Heritage be conducted at the various high schools and institutions of higher education in this State.
It is fitting and proper to establish a permanent State-level commission to survey, design, encourage and promote the implementation of Italian and Americans of Italian Heritage cultural and educational programs in this State, with responsibility for the coordination of events that will provide appropriate awareness and memorialization of the culture, history, heritage and language of Italians and Americans of Italian Heritage on a regular basis throughout the State.
Department of Education
NJIHC is situated within the New Jersey Department of Education (NJ DOE), but retains an “in, but not of” status. The Commission is mandated to report to the Office of the Governor and the Legislature.
Institute of Italian and Italian American Studies 501(c)(3) at Rutgers University
The statute that created the Commission also called for the creation of an “Institute of Italian and Italian American Heritage Studies” that would be “in, but not of” a New Jersey College. In the Fall of 2002, after surveying a number of schools with strong Italian programs, the Commission chose to partner with and establish an office at Rutgers University. The Institute was subsequently recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity. The Institute frequently collaborates with Rutger’s Italian Program and other University Departments, but its activities are overseen by the Commission’s Board of Directors.
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