Jodina Hicks – UrbanPromise - 3/12/14
Today I had the pleasure of naming my first hero in Camden, Jodina Hicks, Executive Director of UrbanPromise. UrbanPromise started in 1988 as a summer camp for at-risk youth in Camden. In 25 years, they have expanded to now include an after school program for over 400 children throughout Camden, 2 schools (K-8 and High school), job training, experimental learning, and a host of other programs that challenge the youth to develop and realize their potential.
Jodina came to UrbanPromise in 1988 as an 18-year old college student at Eastern University who wanted to volunteer her time to help to shape the lives of the young people in Camden. She felt a strong calling to help the community, so much so that she moved into Camden herself to be closer to the young people she served. During her senior year of college, Jodina took 3 studentsfrom the UrbanPromise program that were in very poor familial circumstances into to her home and raised them as her own. One of them was only in 8th grade at the time. Jodina helped her finish high school, go to college, get her masters, and she is now the Vice Principal of Camden Forward, the Urban Promise K-8 school. Jodina played an integral role in helping build the ministry of UrbanPromise, creating the StreetLeader Program, a dynamic teen employment and leadership initiative, and the UrbanPromise Academy, a high school, which has become a last chance educational opportunity for the most vulnerable teens in Camden.
It’s incredible what this program has been able to accomplish in 25 years. On average, 100% of UrbanPromise Academy high school students graduate and around 93% go on to college. Of UrbanPromise alumni, nearly 85% have graduated from an institution of higher education. Those numbers are a true testament on how successful the UrbanPromise program really is. Jodina, along with the passionate teachers, administrators, and other staff, are really making a difference in the lives of so many young people. It was an honor to name her a New Jersey Hero! For more information on UrbanPromise, please visit their website: http://www.urbanpromiseusa.org/.