August 21st 2014
For the second year in a row, the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, provided a grant to UrbanPromise Ministries in Camden to train and employ teens in the StreetLeader program. The grant of $14,210 will pay for four jobs for 2014-2015.
Estefany Rodriguez is completing her first year as a StreetLeader. "This year has been amazing," the 11th grader noted, "like, the best year of my life."
After several weeks of working as a StreetLeader, Rodriguez was promoted to the position of assistant team leader. When asked why a program like this is important to teens in Camden, Rodriguez replied, "There are many stereotypes for teens in Camden: that they'll be dead by age 21, that they'll never graduate, that they'll be drug dealers. Many feel that's how it's supposed to be, but the StreetLeader program gives them a chance to be in a safe place, to be out of the street environment, and to see other options for their lives."
Since its inception in 1994, the StreetLeader program has engaged more than 1,400 teens, who mentor and offer educational support to younger children in Camden. Participants also receive support with college preparation. As a result, 100 percent of high school students in the StreetLeader program graduate and 93 percent go on to college, compared to those in Camden, where 62.3 percent over 25 have graduated from high school and only 7.2 percent attained a bachelor's degree.
Rodriguez plans to become a high school teacher in Camden. Other StreetLeader alumni committed to the city include a policewoman who patrols the area around UrbanPromise, an East Camden fireman, an UrbanPromise board member who owns her own business and several staff members.