Visit Generates Information For Expanding Similar Program Statewide
Camden – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Camden Mayor Dana Redd toured Camden’s “Promise Neighborhood” on Monday and received a briefing on the program designed to rebuild distressed neighborhoods block by block, helping to break the cycle of poverty in both urban and rural communities.
The session generated input for the Senate Democratic initiative “New Jersey: Investing In You,” the multi-faceted plan to invest in key areas that will move the state forward, including plans to expand the use of promise neighborhoods in New Jersey. Camden is pioneering the effort with a federally-designated Promise Neighborhood. In April 2015, Camden received the federal Promise Zone designation selected out of a competitive pool of 123 applicants.
“A child’s zip code should never determine their destiny,” said Senator Sweeney. “Promise Zones can provide solutions for those living in high-poverty communities by working to improve child outcomes and build a college-going culture in the community, build a continuum of academic programs, family and community support from the cradle through college and career.”
Promise Neighborhoods are intended to improve the educational and developmental outcomes of all children in distressed urban and rural communities. There are federally-designated promise neighborhoods in Newark and Camden and a similar state one in Paterson.
“As a Promise Zone, Camden has access to federal resources that will help us with our plan to support and accelerate the city’s efforts to create a place of prosperity for all our residents,” said Mayor Redd. “This is part of our ongoing efforts to transform the city into a desirable place to live, work and visit. The Camden Promise Zone is committed to producing results, with the shared vision of turning potential into reality.”
The Camden Cooper Lanning Promise Neighborhood Initiative is focused on creating opportunities for children and families who live within the Cooper Plaza and Lanning Square communities. It is operated by a team led by Center For Family Services that includes community residents and community-based organizations, that have collectively developed a plan of community empowerment for children and families in the Cooper Lanning neighborhood of Camden.
The model programs being reviewed by Senate Democrats have non-profit organizations, public/private partnerships and institutions of higher education collaborate to create an ecosystem around the needs of a child. As part of this process, all efforts focus on building “wraparound” services through schools in the neighborhood and services for students in those schools from birth through college and career.
Senator Nellie Pou is leading the effort on promise neighborhoods for the “New Jersey: Investing In You” initiative.
“By creating a holistic strategy that supports children and their families within their communities from their early learning years to adulthood, we can afford them the opportunity to grow up feeling positive about their ability to reach their full potential and improve their chances of achieving success,” said Senator Pou. “Through the promise neighborhood approach, communities work together to rebuild neighborhoods beyond brick and mortar. They provide a pipeline of services to engage children and families at every stage of a child’s life, from birth to graduation and beyond. By providing early childhood education, tracking student outcomes through their school years, ensuring college- and career-readiness, and strengthening families with meaningful support to provide an optimal environment for success, we are investing in the future residents and leaders of our communities.”
The programs are community-based and focused on local needs. They strive to maximize educational achievements, ensure the effectiveness of each individual program and foster strong links across programs to ensure smooth transitions and continuous services for families.