As an anchor institution, Rutgers University in Camden has consistently provided educational and social services to Camden adults and children. Residents will now benefit from six newly designated Rutgers–Camden Community Partnership Centers thanks to a $1.4 million federal appropriation awarded to the university.
More than 100 people gathered in the Rutgers–Camden Campus Center on Feb. 16, as U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross, who represents New Jersey’s First Congressional District, presented a check signifying the appropriation to Rutgers–Camden Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis.
“We are here today to celebrate shoring up that responsibility that we have to the City of Camden and Camden County,” Chancellor Tillis said. “Rutgers–Camden has just entered a second decade as a university that is focused, by design, on civic engagement and scholarship. As Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, we know that we have a unique responsibility to leverage our skills, competencies, and energies to uplift our communities. This could not have happened without the consistent advocacy of Congressman Norcross.”
The federal funding, which was secured by Congressman Norcross in the FY 2023 omnibus package, will support Rutgers–Camden’s efforts to partner with the City of Camden and other community organizations on programming, resources, and support to Camden residents at underutilized city community centers. The community centers will focus on the areas of adult education and workforce development, arts and culture, health and wellness, youth and families, educational opportunities, and individual and family supports.
Congressman Norcross noted that the federal appropriation for Rutgers–Camden is emblematic of community-funded projects supporting communities where it is needed most.
“Rutgers–Camden puts students, families, and communities first,” Congressman Norcross said. “Your educational status should not be determined by your zip code. We know in the past that has been the case, but this is a part of the change that continues to be made.”
All efforts of the centers will be advised by a council of residents from each host neighborhood to ensure that programming and operations are grounded in the needs and desires of the local community. Moreover, as an institution of higher education focused on research excellence, Rutgers–Camden will rigorously evaluate the programs and initiatives of the centers to ensure that all efforts have a positive and substantive impact on the community, and to share the university’s innovative model of civic engagement and anchor institution partnerships with a wide audience.
City of Camden Mayor Victor G. Carstarphen emphasized what a difference community centers meant to him growing up in the City of Camden as spaces for learning, athletics, and activities. “These funds will go a long way to maximize our underutilized centers to provide training, programming, and resources that are much needed for our residents,” Mayor Carstarphen said. “I am confident that Rutgers–Camden and our community partners will make certain that each reenergized site is prepared to accommodate robust, year-round community activity.”
Creative Design: Douglas Shelton
Photography: Ron Downes Jr.