Six nonprofits announced Monday they are starting Camden Works, an employment initiative they say will help the city’s residents take part in its economic resurgence.
Representatives from the New Jersey chapter of the NAACP, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Latin America Economic Development Association, Center for Family Services, Hopeworks and Camden County Workforce Investment Board will serve as managing partners of the program.
Camden Works, a four-year private pilot initiative, is being constructed to fill employment opportunities with Camden residents by streamlining the connection between employers and residents seeking jobs, according to a release. By working with employers and helping residents overcome common barriers to gaining employment, the release said, Camden Works hopes to build pathways for residents to participate in the city’s economic growth.
The impetus for the program came from comments Holtec CEO Kris Singh said to ROI-NJ’s Anjalee Khemlani last fall, when he noted the difficulty of retaining area residents. The comments caused a huge uproar in the community.
Camden Works officials said they recognize the unique composition of the city’s population and that the program is being constructed with wrap-around social services as a core foundational piece of its design. By placing a robust social safety net at the center of the initiative, they said, Camden residents will be enabled to overcome employment barriers.
“There is no shortage of talented and ambitious people in the city of Camden; what has been lacking are the mechanisms to match that talent with employers and training programs that can set them on the path to a rewarding career,” U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) said.
“Because of the unprecedented economic development in the city, many new jobs that have come to Camden are now filled by city residents. This initiative will give us the opportunity to build on that progress.”