Youth-Run Grant Program Promotes a Healthy Camden
(Philadelphia, PA) – Five community projects in the City of Camden recently received funding through a youth-led “mini-grant” program. The projects will improve access to healthy food, create safer streets, and promote public green spaces in Camden.
Members of the Camden Youth Advisory Council were tasked with creating a program that will support healthier communities and promote a positive view of Camden. They worked closely with staff from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the Food Bank of South Jersey, The Food Trust, and members of the Campbell’s Healthy Communities collective to develop the program and select projects for funding.
The students identified the project scope, issued a Call for Applications, evaluated and ranked the applications, and selected projects to receive funding. The funded projects support one of the following three focus areas: access to healthy food, safe streets, and green public spaces.
“In addition to making a positive impact in their community, the students were involved in the entire grant-making process from start to finish,” said DVRPC Executive Director Barry Seymour. “The projects themselves are valuable to Camden, and the students took away so much more from the process. They learned how to take an idea and plan a real grant program. We’re excited that they will see their vision become a reality.”
Kim Fortunato, Vice President of Community Affairs at Campbell Soup Company and President of the Campbell Soup Foundation said, “We value the relationship we have with our Camden Youth Advisory Committee and were thrilled to provide them with the opportunity to learn more about philanthropy first-hand. The focus areas they selected reflect the three strategies of the Campbell Soup Foundation and further the foundation's purpose of building a healthy community in our hometown of Camden, NJ. As a result of the success of this program, youth philanthropy will be integral to our Youth Advisory Board's work.”
The following five projects will receive a $4,000 “mini grant:”
- Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers will recruit, train, and provide incentive to community-based organizations to claim and maintain their food-related “My Resource Pal” listing. Transportation will be provided to people with food access/insecurity needs.
- Cooper’s Ferry Partnership will host community-centered events in conjunction with the temporary art projects to be installed throughout Camden in April through October 2021.
- VietLead will hire youth leadership for a summer camp and community food stand. The camp will include virtual instruction and working at a garden. Harvested produce will be given to community members impacted by COVID-19.
- Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority will host community events and programs in new parks. Events include a mural painting, tree planting event, cookout and farmer’s market, environmental education, and a clean-up event.
- The Neighborhood Center will provide meals to families in need and fund a master gardener and teen farmers in community farms. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program will be expanded to provide lunches to families.
The program is a joint effort between Campbell Soup Company, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), and the Camden Youth Advisory Council. It is part of the Campbell’s Healthy Communities Initiative, which seeks to measurably improve the health of young people in Campbell’s hometown communities. The mini-grant program grew out of a desire to engage more Camden City youth in the Campbell’s Healthy Communities Initiative, empower the youth to make changes in their communities, and introduce more students to the fields of city planning and philanthropy.
For more information about DVRPC’s healthy communities planning efforts, please visit www.dvrpc.org/Health.
DVRPC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for a diverse nine-county region in two states: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer in New Jersey.
DVRPC's vision for the Greater Philadelphia Region is a prosperous, innovative, equitable, resilient, and sustainable region that increases mobility choices by investing in a safe and modern transportation system; that protects and preserves our natural resources while creating healthy communities; and that fosters greater opportunities for all.
DVRPC's mission is to achieve this vision by convening the widest array of partners to inform and facilitate data-driven decision-making. We are engaged across the region, and strive to be leaders and innovators, exploring new ideas and creating best practices.