By Andrew Schmertz
They came to the KIPP Charter School in Camden to celebrate the awarding of a federal grant aimed at helping the city’s most distressed neighborhoods.
“The 21st is now Christmas Day for many of us who call the city home, with the announcement of a $30 million Department of Education grant,” said Congressman Donald Norcross.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded the grant — known as the Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grant — to the Center for Family Services. The nonprofit group will dole out the money to four Camden neighborhoods — Cooper Lanning, Bergen Square, Centerville and Liberty Park.
“The notion is to work with every family and child in the community to see what their needs are,” said Center for Family Services CEO Richard Stagliano. “So if it’s after-school programming, if it’s tutoring, if it’s counseling, we are going to add some nursing to schools. We are going to add some counseling services for families having issues with domestic violence. We have mentoring programs for children. We are going to follow every child and family with whatever support they really need.”
That includes after-school programs, mentoring and various health and counseling services to about 15,000 residents.
And the money will go to both charter and traditional public schools.
Camden’s schools superintendent says the city is seeing improvement among all schools.
“We see our renaissance schools, our charter schools, getting great gains. And we also see our traditional public schools seeing meaningful improvement,” said Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard.
“It really is a great announcement and an investment in education that creates a cradle to college to a career pipeline,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd.
“There are two thoughts that I have. I have the thought about while it’s alarming to see the statistics that we deal with on a daily basis and the challenges that Camden has unlike any other. But I am confident that with in the next five years we will be the city that individuals come to visit to emulate when they are applying for grants,” said Camden City Councilman Frank Moran.
Camden gets $6 million a year over the next five years. Partners include numerous city agencies and higher learning institutions.
Nicky Allen is a parent of three kids at KIPP Academy.
“Camden is a city that is full of pride and promise and promise of opportunity on every street and every classroom,” she said.
The Center for Family Services first applied for this grant in 2010. This year Camden was one of just six recipients to receive it.