Katz Foundation Donates Laptop Computers To High School Students In College

By: Follow South Jersey Staff

Camden Academy Charter High School principal Dara Ash hands student Lesli Martinez a Dell Latitude 7400 laptop computer donated by the Katz Foundation. Photo credit: Audrey Jacobson

CAMDEN, N.J. — Twelve students from Camden Academy Charter High School received a new laptop computer courtesy of the Katz Foundation to participate in the College Now Campus Course Program at Camden County College on Friday, October 30.

The program gives these students the opportunity to begin their college course work as rising juniors and earn an associate’s degree before they graduate from high school.

“It’s important that students today have access to reliable technology to help them succeed, especially now when many college courses are being taught online,” said Drew Katz of the Katz Foundation.  The foundation is known for its support for programs and organizations that provide a direct and measurable benefit to organizations that address medical, educational, social, emotional, and cultural needs of those less fortunate.

College Now Campus Course Program participant Dontrell Turner is interviewed by TV news about the program. Photo credit: Audrey Jacobson

Good technology plays a role in student success, added Katz, who sees the donation not just benefiting the students, but the entire community.

“The success of Camden’s youth is the success of Camden City,” Katz said.  “My sister, Melissa, and I are pleased to have the opportunity to carry forward the commitment of our parents, Marjorie and Lewis, to the children of the city of Camden.” 

All of the college courses the students take count for high school and college credit.  While students follow a schedule close to a traditional high school schedule in terms of times, they take regular college classes. 

Student success and student debt are just two factors that make the program compelling, said Donald A. Borden, president of Camden County College.

“As a K-12 public school educator for 35 years who has transitioned to higher education, I have a keen interest in increasing college opportunities for high school students,” Borden said.  “The data related to student success for students with early access is compelling.  In addition, the ongoing debt crisis too many of our college graduates are confronting motivates me to investigate any and all opportunities to reduce cost on the back end by providing opportunities prior to graduating from high school.”

Joscar Defrank, an 11th-grade student at the academy, sees several advantages of the program.

Camden’s Charter School Network Superintendent Dr. Joseph Conway checks out the new Dell computers donated by the Katz Foundation as Technology Coordinator Josh Fleig looks on. Photo credit: Audrey Jacobson

“What I like most about taking college courses is that I’m working at my own pace for the most part, and I don’t feel rushed,” Defrank said. “When I first heard about the program, I was interested because it was kind of a head start in life.”

Academy 11th-grader Giamani Nieves-Camacho sees participating in the College Now Campus Course Program as a significant opportunity.

“Being able to complete two years of college before officially completing high school is a really big advantage that I could not pass up,” Nieves-Camacho said. “Both of my parents agree that it’s a great opportunity for any student.”

Superintendent of Camden’s Charter School Network Dr. Joseph Conway said that the gift from the Katz Foundation will be an important component in student achievement. 

“This is an incredible benefit for our Camden Academy students in providing the technology support to achieve their goals and dreams and receive college credits toward their associate’s degree while in high school,” Conway said.

Since many of the students at Camden Academy are first generation college students, Conway believes the gift from the Katz Foundation will help bridge the digital divide for their college advancement.

“We thank the generosity of the donation from the Katz Foundation in considering our students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and providing them with the necessary support to be successful,” Conway added.

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