Local Nonprofits Launch Camden Works Employment Initiative With Business And Philanthropic Partnerships

Photo credit: Camden City Facebook page.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Six local nonprofits have launched the Camden Works employment initiative, a job training and employment program designed to help Camden residents participate in the city’s economic rebirth.

Camden Works is a four-year private pilot initiative developed by the State of New Jersey National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Latin America Economic Development Association, Center for Family Services, Hopeworks, and Camden County Workforce Investment Board.  These six nonprofits will begin to streamline the hiring process for Camden residents, companies, and job training programs.

The program plans to build pathways for residents to participate in the city’s economic growth by working with employers and helping residents overcome common barriers to gaining employment.  Recognizing the unique composition of the City’s population, Camden Works is being constructed with wraparound social services as a core foundational piece of its design. By placing a social safety net at the center of the initiative, Camden residents will be enabled to overcome employment barriers.

“There is no shortage of talented and ambitious people in the City of Camden, what has been lacking are the mechanisms to match that talent with employers and training programs that can set them on the path to a rewarding career,” Congressman Donald Norcross said in a press release. “Because of the unprecedented economic development in the city, many new jobs that have come to Camden are now filled by city residents. This initiative will give us the opportunity to build on that progress.”

The goal of the program will be to place Camden residents in full-time employment and to further reduce the City’s unemployment and poverty rates by connecting Camden residents from all walks of life with jobs that earn sustainable wages.  The initiative is designed to evaluate the needs of local companies, recruit candidates, connect candidates to job training programs, and then ultimately match candidates with companies that need them. The Managing Partners will also assist the Camden Business Association to develop a database to identify small businesses and increase local supplier diversity.

“The implementation of the Camden Works initiative will enable Camden residents to make those connections and take advantage of the more than 4,600 jobs that have come to Camden since 2013,” Freeholder Jonathan Young, liaison to the Camden County Workforce Investment Board, said. “The services being provided through this program will be a game changer and the WIB is proud to partner on it.”

A commitment of the private sector and philanthropic entities ensures the initiative will be funded privately while working to secure workforce grant funding.  Camden Works is being supported by financial partners led by Co-Chair, George E. Norcross, III Chairman, Cooper University Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Co-Chair Susan Story, President & CEO of American Water Works, Inc. along with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Wells Fargo, NFI, Conner Strong & Buckelew and The Michaels Organization, to name a few initial donors. 

“Camden is American Water’s home and we are committed to making the community better because we are here,” said Susan Story, President & CEO of American Water. “Supporting this new jobs effort is one more way American Water is working with others in our community to create jobs for local residents as we also strengthen and support education and small business growth in Camden.”

Camden Works will monitor progress of the plan by measuring concrete outcomes like full- and part-time job placement, knowledge, attitude, behaviors, and beliefs of job-seekers, as well as holding regular meetings with partners to receive ongoing feedback and suggestions for corrective action.    

“Camden Works will optimize how we connect Camden’s richly diverse and talented workforce to tremendous companies looking for particular skillsets,” Camden Mayor Frank Moran said . “For far too long, there was simply no structured, centralized mechanism for them to find each other. These six non-profits with proven track records will leverage their experience to lay the groundwork to further boost local employment, bringing us another step closer to making inclusive prosperity a reality throughout the city.”

“Camden has all the components necessary to build a thriving economy – it’s just a matter of connecting them in a synergistic way,” said Richard Smith, President of the State of New Jersey NAACP.

 President and CEO of Latin America Economic Development Association Raymond L. Lamboy said that a coordinated approach by participating partners will lead to more and better opportunities for Camden residents.

“The stable and focused strength of our Managing Partners, the financial support of our business and philanthropic leaders and the guidance of our Advisory Partners will boost residents living wage employment opportunities,” Lamboy said. “As a collective, we are excited to support this effort.”

“We’re so proud to bring our holistic approach to uplifting individuals to Camden Works, helping even more people overcome obstacles, find comfort, and build the foundation for a successful future,” Richard Stagliano, President & CEO of Center for Family Services said.

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership produced a one-stop-shop website in partnership with Hopeworks in August that provided a single place to find job opportunities. They will also be participating as a partner to build organic job training and workforce investment connections through Camden Works. 

“Hopeworks is excited to be part of Camden Works.  This initiative complements our mission to grow the employment opportunities for Camden residents,” said Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks.    

“Camden Works will provide an ideal platform for us to effectively support and reconnect vulnerable populations to job readiness programs,” Kris Kolluri, President & CEO of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, said.

Camden City has seen incremental growth on every level when it comes to access and opportunities to employment whether it comes from the state Department of Labor, U.S. Census Bureau or S&P International. Now, with the launch of Camden Works, that progress will be compounded by focused and strategic training for residents.  Camden achieved record low unemployment levels in 2019, reaching 6.6%, a 30-year low, but continues to lag behind the state as a whole. The Camden Works program is intended to continue reducing that disparity, while also increasing the share of Camden residents in jobs located in the City.

For more information about the Camden Works program, people can visit their website at https://www.camdenworks.org/.