UrbanPromise Ministries: Building a city of PROMISE, One city at a time

Opportunity Nation is proud of its diverse multi-sector coalition, which is committed to expanding opportunity and economic mobility for all Americans. In the weeks and months ahead, coalition organizations will be featured here on our blog to showcase the impact they make every day and highlight why they are a part of this campaign. Below you can learn more about the work of our partner UrbanPromise Ministries, who is “building a city of PROMISE, one child at a time.”

Serving the city of Camden, New Jersey for 25 years, UrbanPromise Ministries has been building a city of promise…one child at a time. Beginning as one summer camp run out of a struggling church, the ministry quickly grew to include multiple summer camps, after school programs, job trainings, and alternative schools. Located in one of the nation’s poorest and most dangerous cities, we at UPM have served as a safe space where youth can be equipped with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and Christian leadership.

Unique to its vision, UrbanPromise is committed to involving local teens in the tutoring, mentoring, and coaching of younger children in the community. Employing the largest number of youth in the city of Camden, we provide close to 100 teenagers with jobs through our StreetLeader Program. By involving teens in the leadership process, we are helping create a new generation of youth and visionary leaders who embody a commitment to change their own community.  Through these programs UrbanPromise has created an environment that promotes the advancement of youth through the program to positions of running them. Many individuals have progressed from camper, to StreetLeader, to staff and board members.

In 1997, Urban Promise further assisted Camden youth by opening Camden Forward School and UrbanPromise Academy. Both CFS and UPA offer students a unique schooling opportunity with low teacher to student ratios, family-style learning environments, experiential learning and an emphasis on community service. While CFS is a private K-8 school, UrbanPromise Academy intentionally serves High School students who are often two to three grade levels below national standards. With college-preparatory classes, one-on-one mentoring, and a 100% graduation rate, the Academy prepares students for post-secondary education and currently sees 90% of graduates enter college.

UrbanPromise is making significant progress against an inter-generational cycle of poverty and street violence by providing a culture of support, which in turn guides and educates youth to become successful community leaders.  Since 2000, 100% of seniors involved in the StreetLeader program graduated from high school and 93% of them continued on to secondary education. Our unique culture and youth empowerment model have been studied by interns who come from communities all over the world. Once learning the model, interns return to their home and tailor the model to fit their community. Programs modeled after UrbanPromise Camden can be seen in areas such as Malawi, Africa, Honduras, Toronto, Miami, and Delaware.

UrbanPromise Ministries believes that access to opportunity should be available to all. As we work with Opportunity Nation and the many important members of the coalition, we are hopeful that our work will bring a greater weight, and more powerful advocacy towards insuring that youth in undeserved communities are being provided with the tools and opportunity needed for success.

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