JerseyCAN advocates for all students across the state to have access to high-quality schools. We work to improve policies to help all New Jersey students thrive, and share promising practices and stories to demonstrate that all kids CAN succeed.
Beyond this statewide approach, we also focus on a couple of key cities in New Jersey—Camden and Newark. Our work in Camden is focused on creating a local education ecosystem that supports the growth of high-quality school options. This includes equipping parents, grassroots leaders and local officials with the tools they need to better understand the changes happening in Camden’s education landscape.
Our Advocacy Work
Seeing is believing
Great School Tours: We host small group tours for education stakeholders, local leaders, philanthropists, nonprofit professionals, and others to highlight schools creating unique education opportunities that work for kids and families.
Parents are the best advocates
Parents for Great Camden Schools (PGCS): JerseyCAN successfully incubated a Camden-based parent and community organizing group led by Bryan Morton, a local Camden resident. This work has raised awareness about the components of great schools and elevated the profiles of parents who want high-quality education options in Camden.
State-level advocacy: To date, JerseyCAN has helped facilitate parent engagement with over 50 elected officials including Governor Christie at the State Capitol. We were happy to host many Camden families over the course of these events; their voices are critical in the ongoing conversation about making excellent school options available to all families.
Camden Enrollment: JerseyCAN has partnered with local leaders to engage the broader Camden community, especially those who interact with families the most, to ensure a smooth and thoughtful implementation of the new school enrollment process. Camden Enrollment is a one-stop family-friendly application that makes it easier to learn about and apply to public schools in Camden.
Getting the Message Out
JerseyCAN continues to work to maintain a positive ecosystem for huge changes in Camden’s education structure. This includes:
- Co-hosting and supporting events to create positive momentum for the changes underway in Camden schools;
- Communications across local players in Camden;
- Op-eds on Camden education policies including renaissance school enrollment patterns;
- Informational videos on renaissance schools and the new enrollment application; and
- Research, policy and news dissemination including an Urban Hope Act one-pager, PARCC score analysis, Camden-specific news roundups and blogs
Meet Tre Johnson, our deputy director
Camden is often referred to as a small city, but it really is a small town. The political and policy context is unique and requires a local approach. In order to fill these needs, JerseyCAN’s deputy director Tre Johnson is based in Camden and leads our work there. Tre has been in education since 2001 and has been working in and around the greater Philly/Camden area since 2012, including spending the last two years as a member of the Camden City School District’s central administration. A native of Trenton, NJ, Tre has many years of experience in the classroom and in nonprofit work where he has been devoted to advancing educational equity for kids and families.
JerseyCAN works alongside local partners in Camden to host school enrollment fairs, school tours and other positive momentum-building events to help foster community engagement and increase access to information about Camden schools.
#ChooseCamden Citywide School Fair (Jan. 2016)
JerseyCAN assisted in hosting the first-ever citywide school fair. All of the city’s K-12 public schools (district, charter & renaissance schools) were present as well as five Catholic schools.
Community Worker Appreciation Luncheon (Jan. 2016)
JerseyCAN helped organize a luncheon to celebrate Camden community leaders and their dedication to serving Camden families. This event also served as an opportunity to inform and engage Camden community leaders on Camden Enrollment.
Great Schools Tours (Dec. 2015, Nov. 2016)
We host small group tours for education stakeholders, local leaders, philanthropists, nonprofit professionals, and others to highlight schools creating unique education opportunities that work for kids and families.
Parent Advocacy Days at the State Capitol (Dec. 2015, June 2016)
JerseyCAN has co-hosted two parent advocacy days in Trenton, which were attended by parents and community leaders from Camden. At the first parent day, we met with over 30 legislators from across the state. At the second parent day, we met with approximately 15 legislators and parents spent over an hour meeting with the Governor. The input from Camden parents at both of these events was invaluable. There is no substitute for policymakers hearing first hand from parents and families about the value of exercising their right to choose high-quality school options.
ESSA Community Focus Group (Oct. 2016)
JerseyCAN partnered with the NJ Department of Education to host a parent focus group at Harry C. Sharp Elementary School in Camden. This meeting was a part of a larger stakeholder engagement initiative to collect feedback to incorporate into the State’s plan that will implement the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Parents talked about what they value most in high-quality education and the best ways to support schools, among other topics.
Dr. Howard Fuller Book Signing Event (Sept. 2014)
JerseyCAN partnered with Camden City Mayor Dana Redd to host a community conversation with Dr. Howard Fuller in Camden. Dr. Fuller, a civil rights leader and education reform advocate, spoke passionately about the urgency for more high-quality school options for our children.
Take to the (virtual) streets
Want to stay up-to-date on Camden's school activity? Follow Deputy Director Tre Johnson on Twitter!
Our connection to Camden is a personal one. We use our blog to weigh in on Camden education topics and policies impacting the school system. We’re also eager to host guest blogs to elevate the voices of Camden parents, community members and leaders like you! If you’re interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We help get the word out about the transformational changes happening in Camden schools by contributing op-eds, letters to the editor and regularly disseminating Camden-specific news stories to our network. Making sure the local and statewide community stays informed with accurate and accessible information is vital to ensuring the success of a high-quality education system.