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The Cooper Foundation Announces a New Neighborhood Initiative, “PowerUp,” to Address Food Insecurity, Job Readiness and Financial Literacy for Neighborhood Families

CAMDEN, N.J. – The Cooper Foundation today announced a new community initiative, PowerUp, to address food insecurity for Camden children at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy and the Center for Family Services (CFFS) Head Start program at KIPP. PowerUp will also support workforce development, job-readiness training, and financial literacy programs for families in the Cooper Plaza and Lanning Square neighborhoods in Camden.

“Promoting good health is more than physical well-being and PowerUP is designed to remove the stress of food insecurity and provide critical resources to help families improve their emotional, physical, and financial health,” said Susan Bass Levin, President & CEO of The Cooper Foundation. “For more than 130 years, Cooper has been serving the people of Camden and promoting good health, and PowerUp is one more way we further our mission: To Serve, To Heal, To Educate.”

PowerUp’s multifaceted program is funded in part by a grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank America’s Most Convenient Bank@.

“The TD Charitable Foundation is proud to support the work of The Cooper Foundation in the community,” states Rob Curley, South Jersey Market President at TD Bank. “Cooper’s commitment to Camden aligns with TD’s values so by supporting this work, we are able to fulfill our promise to enrich the lives of our communities and customers.”

PowerUp – Food   

Research shows that household food insecurity can impact the health and development of young children. Hungry children may experience poor concentration, diminished work productivity, low academic achievement, absenteeism, and behavior issues.

To address food insecurity in Camden, The Cooper Foundation is partnering with Philabundance to provide food packs to more than 1,600 students at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy’s three schools and CFFS Head Start’s two Camden locations.

“Philabundance is thrilled to provide food for this program, which seeks to address hunger and other factors effecting children’s’ health,” said Glenn Bergman, Executive Director of Philabundance. “Hunger does not exist in a vacuum; we believe that pairing food plus critical services is a path toward ending hunger for good, so we applaud this innovative effort.”

Additionally, Philly Food Rescue, which rescues extra food from local grocers and other food stores, will provide fruits, vegetables and baked goods for Camden families of KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy and Center for Family Services Head Start.

“As an organization, we’re committed to thinking holistically about meeting our students’ needs and creating a broad set of supports for our students and families,” said Joe Hejlek, Director of Wraparound Services at KIPP. “This new program will help improve our families’ access to quality food and ensure that we’re doing our part to keep students healthy and ready to learn.”

The Cooper Foundation has also enlisted Uplift Solutions of Westville, N.J. to work with members of the community to ensure they receive all the benefits for which they are eligible. Experienced benefit-resource navigators will support families with on-site completion of SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, WorkFirst NJ and TANF applications. This assistance will help remove barriers to sustainable food access and financial security.

The Cooper Foundation is also developing a partnership with The Food Trust to provide additional services to combat food insecurity for families in the neighborhood.

“Making sure all students are well-fed will have a positive impact on their learning,” said Nicquera Allen, parent of three KIPP students. “Many families are balancing a lot of different obligations, and having a little extra help with food will go a long way.”

Power-Up – Job Readiness  

In addition to addressing food and hunger issues, The Cooper Foundation will partner with Center for Family Services to support InDemand Job-Readiness Training, a workforce development program for residents in the community. This program provides comprehensive job and life-skills training in coordination with potential employers to ensure residents are effectively trained to gain successful employment.

Power-Up – Financial Know-How

The Cooper Foundation will work with TD Bank’s WOW! Zone program to provide students at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy with valuable information about money, saving, banking and investing to help develop strong financial skills in a fun and interactive way.

Additionally, The Cooper Foundation will offer Financial Literacy and Counseling to Cooper Plaza and Lanning Square residents interested in information about budgeting, debt management, and saving for the future. Classes will also address foreclosure issues, identity protection, and homebuyer counseling to prepare renters for homeownership.

Click here to view photos from the PowerUp Food Distribution Day at KIPP on March 28, 2019.