October 23, 2018 In The News, Media

Network Launched to Make Higher Education a Reality for More Camden Residents

October 23, 2018

A new network led by the City of Camden’s educational institutions hopes to increase the number Camden residents who have earned post-secondary education credentials by 50 percent by 2023.

On Saturday, Rowan University, Rutgers University—Camden, Camden County College, the Camden City School District (CCSD) and over 15 community programs came together at the Salvation Army Kroc Center to launch the Camden College Access Network (CCAN) — an initiative to connect Camden students and their families to post-secondary educational resources with the goal to make higher education a reality for more Camden residents.

The CCAN has four specific goals: foster a college going culture across Camden City; inform families and students about the resources that are already available; educate families and students about the post-secondary education process and the options they have; and increase the number of Camden City residents who have earned a post-secondary degree by 50 percent by 2023.

According to current data from the United States Census Bureau, approximately 8 percent of Camden City’s adult population over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“There’s not a question about whether or not your kid is going to go to high school. This should be the same thing, there shouldn’t be a question whether or not your child is going to continue education after high school,” said P.J. Craig, assistant director of civic engagement at Rutgers University–Camden.

“When I talk to students, they’re not impacted by just one organization or one person that helped them get to college, they name a variety of organizations and places. So we’re hoping we can do that, but citywide,” Craig said.

According to Craig, post-secondary options could include anything from trade school, to an employment training program, to a two-year or four-year university.

In the Camden City School District, broadening the definition of college is something it has done to help its students find success after graduation.

“We want to foster a sense of making sure students have a plan for life after high school,” said Michele Garcon, CCSD college and career readiness manager.

“We know that it takes a village to help students prepare for life after high school, and we want to ensure that students have options …  that they have exposure opportunities to college and careers and thinking about what are their interests,” Garcon said about the CCAN.

Other efforts the school district has done to foster a college-going culture is pushing its students to complete college applications, offer PSATs to ninth through 11th graders, offer a school-day SAT exam and encourage students to complete FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms, Garcon said.

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross stressed what’s more important than the path you take is the end result — a job to support your family.

“The idea of going to college just to have a degree on your wall, unless it leads to a career, unless you can afford to do that, is not always the best route,” Norcross said on Saturday. “More often than not, there are challenges that we all face … and there is no right or wrong way. We’re here to serve that.”

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