Diane Sawyer Encourages Camden Youth During UrbanPromise’s 25th Anniversary Banquet

Camden, NJ (Sept. 29, 2012) – On Thursday, September 27, ABC News’ Diane Sawyer joined UrbanPromise in commemorating the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary in the city of Camden. Encouraging youth to “set the world on fire” and continue identifying solutions to poverty in the city, Ms. Sawyer spoke for 20 minutes during the celebratory banquet program at Collingswood, New Jersey’s Scottish Rite Auditorium. Nearly 1,000 individuals attended the dinner and program in support of UrbanPromise.

“We want to see you do it,” Ms. Sawyer said, encouraging UrbanPromise children and teens to improve the world around them. “Everybody wants to be a part of a big life. We always learn that we’re more alike in our hopes and dreams than we are different.”

In addition to speaking during the banquet program, Ms. Sawyer spent over an hour dining and talking with Camden children and families, whom she first met during her 20/20 special “Waiting on the World to Change.” The first program of the ABC News’ three-part series spotlighted the impacts of poverty, crime, and violence on Camden youth. Ms. Sawyer said her relationship with UrbanPromise has grown ever since.

“UrbanPromise means to me: BFF; best friend for life,” she said.

For the past 25 years, UrbanPromise has provided youth outreach to hundreds of Camden children and teens. Through after-school programs, summer camps, two private schools, job training, experiential learning, and more, UrbanPromise reaches around 600 of the city’s youth each year.

“We create a culture of positivity,” said Alberto Vega, a camp director of the organization’s after-school programs who spoke during the banquet program. “We keep kids off the streets and give them the opportunity for a better life.”

Along with several other UrbanPromise children, teens, and alumni, Vega provided testimony of the nonprofit’s impact on his life and the city of Camden.

In addition to the banquet, as part of its 25th anniversary, UrbanPromise is launching four new initiatives with the goal of providing better services to the youth and families of Camden. Its “Be Promise” anniversary campaign aims to: expand after-school programs, summer camps, and teen jobs throughout the city; make its two private schools (K-8; 9-12) more affordable; increase the amount of college scholarship money for its graduates; and launch the UrbanPromise Wellness Center, which will provide health and nutrition services to the organization’s youth, staff, and families.

Notable banquet guests included: Dr. Tony Campolo, sociologist, professor emeritus of Eastern University, and founder of the Evangelical Promotion for the Advancement of Education (EAPE); Denise Morrison, chief executive officer and president of Campbell Soup Company; Carl Ortell, president of Automotive Resources International (ARI); Joseph Holman, founder of Holman Automotive, and Melinda Holman, the company’s chief executive officer and president.