Camden Program Models Harlem Children's Zone, Sets Path from Cradle to College

Camden Program Models Harlem Children's Zone, Sets Path from Cradle to College

Cooper Lanning residents gather to celebrate Promise Neighborhood
Thursday, May 30, 2013

CAMDEN, NJ (May 29, 2013) – We are going to college whatever it takes is the message children and families celebrated at today's community event in Camden's Cooper Lanning neighborhood .  Starting with children as young as birth to age three, the focus is on starting early in a child’s life to improve educational outcomes through the Promise Neighborhoods model.

At the event, Center For Family Services announced their award for $500,000 in federal funding for the Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant. The funds will support plans to help at-risk children succeed in school and life, with a cradle-to-college approach. The targeted focus is on children in the Cooper Plaza and Lanning Square neighborhoods.

"The Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant award will support us in developing a comprehensive plan to transform and strengthen the Cooper Lanning neighborhoods so that children and families can thrive and succeed," said Merilee Rutolo, Vice President of Center For Family Services.

Rutolo said the grant money will be used to create a "pipeline of community support" to ensure a lifelong experience that leads to academic achievement and neighborhood improvement

The pipeline starts with “Baby’s Best Start” modeled off of Harlem Children’s Zone’s “Baby College”. The program is for new parents, and supports all aspects of healthy child development.

Darnell Shakes’ family recently graduated from the Baby’s Best Start program. “There are no words to describe Baby’s Best Start. The program is intriguing, enlightening, and educational. I learned about my daughter’s brain development, the importance of reading to her every single day, and how to effectively discipline my children.”

Through support from a team of partners and providers, children and families will stay in the Promise Neighborhoods pipeline through preschool and throughout their school careers.

The celebratory event also included tours of the Promise Neighborhood Family Success Center. Neighbohood families received calendars with information on free daily events for the entire family. The Family Success Center serves families in Camden City. The Shakes family frequents the Family Success Center. “My family feels safe when they are here and the staff treats everyone with so much kindness and respect. My kids walk into the Family Success Center like it’s their own home, that’s how comfortable they feel here.”

About Center For Family Services

Center For Family Services is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve a better life through vision, hope and strength. It is their vision that all people lead capable, responsible, fulfilled lives in strong families and healthy communities.


Jen Hammill, Associate Vice President of Public Relations
856.651.7553 x40129