Greg's journey from camper to teacher

It was graduation night, 2011 at Azusa Pacific University, Southern California! The excitement was electric.greg3

My wife, Pam, and I stood at the side of the stage, straining to see over the crowds of families and friends who waited for the name of their son or daughter to be announced. As each graduate's name was called, shouts of joy reverberated throughout the stadium. If you've had a graduate, you know it was a very happy moment for everyone.

It was a particularly special event for me. As an alumnus of APU, I was there to witness Greg Collins, the first UrbanPromise youth to graduate from my alma mater. Starting in the 3rd grade as a camper, Greg had attended all of the UrbanPromise programs. He became an Afterschool Program participant and then a StreetLeader--where his obvious leadership skills were recognized and honed.

Because of a generous “Presidential Scholarship” from Azusa Pacific's President, Jon Wallace, Greg was awarded the opportunity to attain a Bachelor of Arts in Education. He studied hard, enjoyed the southern California lifestyle and became a leader on campus. Greg, with his proudly awarded degree, truly embodies the potential of our youth.

But Greg never forgot his hometown and the young people of Camden. Greg resisted what social scientist call, the brain drain.

In a landmark book called, Hollowing Out the Middle, two Philadelphia-based scholars looked at the devastating impact on cities and rural towns when the brightest and best young people leave for college…and never return. They called this trend “civic suicide”. All too often intelligent young people, like Greg, get university degrees and don’t come back to inner city communities because the job market is so bleak. Consequently our cities lose the smartest and most dynamic young leaders.

However at UrbanPromise we’re continuing our trend to foster an environment where the best and brightest want to be part of our mission. Two weeks ago Greg was hired as our new Third Grade Teacher at UrbanPromise’s CamdenForward School.


“These kids need role models,” Greg said this summer, “role models who have grown up in Camden and yet have been able to do something positive with their lives--and for their country.”

“He is remarkably talented with children,” affirms our principal, Denise Baker. “Even as a college student I wanted to hire him. Our young people need positive male leadership.”

After 24 years of ministry in Camden, Pam and I are seeing some remarkable fruit—young people like Greg, coming back to Camden as teachers, social workers and counselors. It’s very gratifying.

Now, of course, you can help us celebrate our 24 Years of Promise!

With a gift of $24—that's a dollar for each year—you can help UrbanPromise celebrate this milestone.

Or, how about $240—that's just $10 a year—I can enroll the next Greg Collins in an AfterSchool Program this fall.

Donate now:

Your gift will affirm our vision of keeping this ministry vibrant, forward looking and creative.

God Bless You,

Dr. Bruce Main