September 2002

Grant Results

SUMMARY

The Woodland Community Development Corporation developed a project that provides inner-city children in Camden, N.J., ages 5–14, with tutoring and enrichment activities in an effort to delay their experimentation with alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.

Woodland is a Camden-based nonprofit social service agency established by the Rev. Floyd L. White III, pastor of the Woodland Avenue Presbyterian Church in Camden.

Key Results
Project results reported by Woodland included:

  • Establishment of an after-school program to give students academic assistance, cultural enrichment, and substance-abuse information.
  • Employment of a substance abuse prevention specialist, a dance therapist, and an art therapist to work with students at the homework centers on a rotational basis. These professionals provided positive activities aimed at increasing self-esteem.
  • Convening of two parenting workshops for parents of participating students.
  • Sponsorship of two public events — called Spring Extravaganzas — to showcase dance routines and anti-drug skits performed by students.
  • Surveys of staff at the homework centers conducted indicated participating students showed improvement in grades and motivation. Further, more than 91 percent of parents surveyed said their child's academic performance had improved while participating in the program.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with two grants totaling $80,000 between June 1998 and October 2000.

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THE PROBLEM

Camden, New Jersey suffers from crime, high unemployment, and other negative social and economic factors that have had a devastating effect on the city's 20,000 school children. Research suggests that delaying a child's first use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs can reduce the risk of later abuse.

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THE PROJECT

The Woodland Community Development Corporation developed a project that provides inner-city children in Camden, N.J., ages 5–14, with tutoring and enrichment activities in an effort to delay their experimentation with alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.

Woodland is a Camden-based nonprofit social service agency established by the Rev. Floyd L. White III, pastor of the Woodland Avenue Presbyterian Church in Camden.

The project's objectives were to:

  • Provide systematic education and substance-abuse prevention information to 120 Camden students in grades K through 8.
  • Foster a program that paid particular attention to African-American and Hispanic youth.
  • Create a program to pair children with adult mentors.
  • Educate approximately 115 parents of children participating in the project in drug and alcohol abuse prevention and early intervention activities.

The mentor program was not established, in part because the students had limited time available.

Communications activities included two news conferences for local media. (See the Bibliography for details.) Articles on the project appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Courier-Post, which circulates in south New Jersey.

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RESULTS

Project results reported by Woodland included:

  • Establishment of an after-school program to give students academic assistance, cultural enrichment, and substance-abuse information.

    Named the Mary Esther Williams Homework Centers Program, in honor of a deceased local educator, the program operated homework centers in seven schools.

    The centers were open Monday through Thursday for one hour at the conclusion of the regular school day.

    Seventy-five students completed the program in the first year, 96 in the second year.

    In addition to providing students with academic help, enrichment activities, and substance abuse prevention training, the centers promoted Woodland Community Development Corporation-sponsored community events not funded under this project including a panel discussion on HIV prevention and a community health fair.
  • Employment of a substance abuse prevention specialist, a dance therapist, and an art therapist to work with students at the homework centers on a rotational basis. These professionals provided positive activities aimed at increasing self-esteem.

    Woodland also hired four parents as after-school enrichment paraprofessionals to work at the centers.
  • Convening of two parenting workshops for parents of participating students. The workshops covered a range of parenting issues, including strategies for protecting children from drug and alcohol abuse. Approximately 20 parents attended the first workshop, and 15 the second.
  • Sponsorship of two public events — called Spring Extravaganzas — to showcase dance routines and anti-drug skits performed by students. The first event drew more than 150 parents and community members, the second more than 100.
  • Surveys of staff at the homework centers conducted indicated participating students showed improvement in grades and motivation. Further, more than 91 percent of parents surveyed said their child's academic performance had improved while participating in the program.

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AFTER THE GRANT

At the conclusion of the grant funding, Woodland planned to:

  • Expand the homework centers program into a middle school.
  • Implement a violence prevention curriculum.
  • Explore collaboration with Camden's Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center to provide artists to work at each of the homework centers.
  • Implement the mentor program.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Camden Youth Mentoring and Enrichment Program

Grantee

Woodland Community Development Corporation (Camden,  NJ)

  • Amount: $ 50,000
    Dates: June 1998 to June 1999
    ID#:  033153

  • Amount: $ 30,000
    Dates: November 1999 to October 2000
    ID#:  038033

Contact

Reverend Floyd L. White III
(856) 963-7538
wcdc2300@rcn.com

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

News Conferences and Briefings

Woodland Community Development Corporation, news conference announcing creation of the Mary Esther Williams Homework Centers Program, Camden, N.J., October 1998. Attended by approximately 20 people.

Woodland Community Development Corporation, news conference to provide update on the Mary Esther Williams Homework Centers Program, Camden, N.J., November 1999. Attended by approximately 30 people.

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Report prepared by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Michael H. Brown
Program Officer: Marco Navarro

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