Reimagining neighborhoods through carefully planned housing, placemaking, recreation, green spaces, and cultural activities inspires a sense of community and pride in our beloved city.
The residents of Camden are the fabric of the community. Their input and participation in community planning and programs is shaping the positive changes seen across the city. Strategic investments in community programs act as a catalyst for transforming neighborhoods into places where residents feel more connected to each other and the city.
As a result, Camden increasingly offers the amenities–quality education, public parks, social programming, and cleaner and safer neighborhoods- that attract residents in contemporary urban communities— which will help stabilize and grow its population base and improve the quality of life in the city.
In April 2015, Camden, New Jersey was designated as a federal Promise Zone by the Obama Administration. The initiative forms a partnership between the federal government and local leaders of these designated communities, in which they work together to increase economic activity, leverage private investments, improve educational opportunities, address public health issues, and reduce/prevent crime. Lead by the Mayor’s Office and Center for Family Services, Camden Promise Zone brings together local organizations to advance these goals.
Designating safe and affordable housing remains a top priority, as such, the city implements programs to demolish abandoned and unsafe structures, rehabilitate existing homes, create new market-rate housing, and encourage homeownership. Accessible housing brings new vitality to a city. When homes are full, property values rise; citizens get to know their neighbors and spend more time in their communities. Programs include homeowner rehab programs, façade improvements, first-time buyer programs and redevelopment of public housing complexes and market-rate developments.
Organizations like St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society, The Cooper Foundation, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, and The Michael’s Organization implement programs to demolish unsafe structures, rehabilitate existing homes, create new market-rate housing, and encourage homeownership.
Investment in parks and recreation is also vital to improving the quality of life of any community and Camden is no different. In what is perhaps one of Cooper’s Ferry Partnerships’ most essential goals, the agency works to create green spaces and parks and to provide healthy activities in the spaces for residents to enjoy. Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, The City of Camden and Camden County have invested over $40 million in the revitalization of parks and transformation of former industrial sites to parkland to expand Camden’s park system.
Programs like CONNECT THE LOTS, Get Healthy Camden, and The Cooper Foundations’ Camden Health and Athletic Association provide opportunities in these spaces for organized sports, recreation and arts and culture in the city’s green spaces. What it means for residents and the region are beautiful new parks, recreation opportunities, and an increased sense of community pride.
The Camden County Police Department (CCPD) is dedicated to reducing crime and strengthening relationships with city residents. The department continues to invest in community policing strategies, state-of-the-art crime-fighting technology, and the training and recruitment of new officers. The CCPD also works closely with a variety of city departments to address quality-of-life issues that impact the safety of Camden’s neighborhoods.
The CCPD’s commitment to community policing has become the core of its policing philosophy and strategy. Often recognized as a national model, neighborhood engagement is the first and foremost priority of the department, and its importance is ingrained in officers from the day they join the CCPD. Expanding youth programs, creating safe corridors to school and hosting community events in neighborhoods aligns residents and law enforcement who work together to make Camden safer. Improvements in crime rates are notable with violent crime down by 22.5 percent, declines of 28.6 percent for murders, 27.1 percent for assaults, 21.1 percent for burglaries, 13.8 percent for sex crimes, and 12.3 percent for robberies.
The future of Camden’s growth works in tandem with the development of advancement opportunities for its residents, especially for its’ children. The city's primary and high schools are preparing young people with the knowledge, responsibility, and fortitude to succeed beyond compulsory schooling. Creating opportunities for successful careers for Camden’s residents begins long before the interview process because it takes a strong education at an early age to make way for lasting, sustainable success. Improving the number of graduates and decreasing the dropout rates is key to making moves toward a thriving education system that prepares young people for the positive futures that await them.
More children are leaving Camden schools with diplomas because the district is implementing innovative programs to get involved with students when help is needed most. With initiatives that embrace parent involvement, school choices, and community partnerships, graduation rates and test scores continue to rise. Camden City School District’s graduation rate has risen from 49 to 70 percent over the last three years, while the dropout rate has fallen from 21 to 12 percent.
Thanks to the Camden City School District’s partnerships with charter and Renaissance schools, quality school options are available for thousands of children. The district has streamlined the application process too, going from 17 different school applications to one straightforward process for students to apply.
The school district works with Camden’s higher education partners too. Institutions such as Camden County College, Rutgers University-Camden and Rowan University are creating innovative cradle to career programs that help to provide students with a seamless path from school, to college to career.