Blog: December 2012

Wednesday, December 26

Partner with UrbanPromise and the Camden community for our upcoming Martin Luther King Day of Service! 

Last year over 300 children, teens, and adults from the South Jersey area participated in our 2012 MLK Day of Service. We’re hoping for an even greater turnout on Monday, January 21 and to engage in a wider variety of projects—a Camden park cleanup, an art project for the community of Newtown, CT, and several collections for local residents. 

But we need your help to pull it off! 

Consider joining us on January 21 and/or sponsoring our service projects by donating the following: 

Art Supplies - To create “art of hope” for the community of Newtown, CT and children in local shelters and hospitals:

- 150 sheets of 11x17 copy paper
2 rolls of contact paper
- Candy molds
- Construction paper
- Markers, crayons, glue
- Cellophane                              
- 10 boxes of colored pencils              
- 25 pieces of poster board
- 5 rolls of duct tape                                     
- (25) 18x24 stretched canvases
- 130 plain colored t-shirts        
- 65 small condiment containers

Food & Drinks - To nourish and energize our MLK Day participants: 
-10 lbs. of sliced turkey and cheese
- 20 loaves of bread            
- 200 small bag of chips                          
- 200 granola bars (no nuts please!)
- 4 cases of apples        
- 50 cases of water                                            
- 5 containers of hot chocolate
- 4 lbs. of coffee
- 2 boxes of tea bags   
Outdoor Work Supplies – To clean Camden-area parks and streets:
- 5 boxes of contractor bags
- 25 pair of work gloves
- 5 wheelbarrows          
- 10 rakes    
- 1 lawnmower
- 1 leaf blower
- 1 weed wacker                                                                                   
Collection Drive Donations – To provide families in need with the following necessities: 
- Pajamas (infant – 5T)
- Soap, shampoo, related bathroom items    
- Small toys      
- Blankets (infant – adult)
Monetary Donations for Awards – To recognize youth winners of our MLK Day poster contest and “servant leader” awards (an estimated $1,500 is needed to honor all awardees).
Martin Luther King Day of Service will be held at UrbanPromise on Monday, January 21 from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 
For more information on donating or becoming further involved, please contact Jennifer Giordano at (856) 382-1864 or
Monday, December 24

"How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." (Luke 1:18) 

On a recent Friday afternoon, a 15-year-old UrbanPromise Academy student passed by me in the hallway. It was about 3:15 p.m. and school had finished for the day. 
I had forgotten her name, but not her story. A year ago, her mother—desperate for an alternative educational option for her daughter—had enrolled the young woman at our high school. It was her last chance; truancy, lack of motivation, and the wrong friends had led her down the wrong path. 
I wasn’t sure she wanted to chat, but I tried to make conversation anyway. “So, what do have you planned for the weekend?" I asked.
I have to admit, I didn’t expect much of a response. But, to my surprise, she paused, turned, and said: “Oh, I’ll be here at school all weekend. Our robotics teamis getting ready for our first competition on Sunday. We’ve got a lot of work to do!”

I blinked and tried to jog my memory. Robotics team? Was I talking to the same girl who, less than a year ago, would hardly say hello, crack a smile, or reveal a hint of happiness—much less be at school on a weekend? Over her year at UrbanPromise, her apathy had been replaced with vibrancy. Where was this enthusiasm and zest for life coming from?
Enter Dr. Cortney Bolden, UrbanPromise Academy’s new high school science teacher who’s inspiring a new generation of youth to develop a passion for science—and in doing so, is rediscovering her own self-worth.

Starting in September, Cortney made a major life change. With a Ph.D. from North Carolina A&T State University and years of experience as an engineer, she left her high-paying, secure job and began teaching at UrbanPromise. Since her first day, she’s infused her classroom with an enthusiasm for science and her vibrant faith. She also started the school’s robotics team—something our youth have never experienced before. Cortney’s passion is so infectious that students now want to spend their weekends building robots and learning mechanical functions. I see new life in their eyes. 

Cortney came to UrbanPromise because God touched her heart; she felt called to educate and inspire urban youth. She said yes to God.

According to the Gospel of Luke, the Christmas story actually began with the angel Gabriel's promise to Elizabeth and Zachariah, a couple well beyond childbearing years. The two had never been able to have children—and didn’t think it possible at their elderly age. 

But Gabriel spoke to them. And nine months later, an infant of joy, John, appeared in an unsuspecting world. A barren woman—well beyond her fertile years—gave birth to John the Baptist, who would go on to lead men and women out of lives of debilitating barrenness toward the Savior of the world. Nothing is impossible with God, the Gospel proclaims.
And then, even more miraculously, in a nearly empty, desolate stable, Jesus was born to a virgin, Mary. The miracle of Christmas began in a barren womb and a barren place. 
The unifying thread tying each of these stories together is this: God’s hope, love, and life were birthed into the world when someone said yes. Elizabeth said yes. Mary said yes. Cortney said yes. When ordinary people say yes to God, He rejoices and creates a new life with meaning and hope. 
This past year I’ve witnessed life returning to desolate and forgotten neighborhoods in Trenton, Miami, and Vancouver. In Malawian, Ugandan, and Honduran villages I have witnessed the birthing of schools, summer camps, and feeding programs that are changing the way kids see their lives and futures.  
All of this is happening because people are saying yes to God, embodying the presence of Christ, and believing that the Christmas miracle can happen.
Your prayers, encouragement, and resources are the ingredients that enable our community to serve those barren places and lost souls. I am grateful for your generous prayers and gifts this Christmas season and throughout the year.
Bruce Main
President & Founder, UrbanPromise
P.S. Below is a copy of Dr. Bolden's wish list for the robotics team if you'd like to help!  


  • Large tool chest on wheels
  • Wrench (open end / box end), 5/16"
  • Wrench (open end / box end), 1/4"
  • Hacksaw, 32 tooth blade
  • Hand files (flat and round)
  • Sheets of plexiglas (24 x 24 inches)
  • Heat gun
  • Electrical tape
  • Soldering iron
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Extra vise grip
  • Allen wrench, 7/64”
  • Allen wrench, 1/8”

For more information about the robotics team wish list please contact Dr. Cortney Bolden, UrbanPromise Academy comprehensive science teacher, at (856) 382-1230 or  

Friday, December 21

A big THANK YOU to Association Headquarters for hosting an awesome Christmas party at their office for UrbanPromise's Camp Freedom AfterSchool Program.  We are blessed by your partnership!  

Wednesday, December 19

UrbanPromise is excited to share that we've received a $1,000 grant from the Dermody Properties Foundation for our Emergency Family Fund! This award will help us provide financial assistance to families in need, particularly around this holiday season. Learn more about donating to our youth and families and the giving efforts of Dermody Properties.

Thank you, Dermody Properties!

Monday, December 17

Last year, 44 students—around one fourth of our student population—nearly withdrew from UrbanPromise schools because they were unable to pay tuition.  Behind each of those 44 instances was a child whose family was experiencing some kind of financial crisis—due to a lost job, a father who had died, a grandmother who could no longer help with the bills, or a parent who relapsed. 

Behind each of those stories was a child who loved school at UrbanPromise, who counted on staff to teach and empower, and who had no fears of being made fun of or bullied. Even though the families of those 44 students could not afford a portion of their tuition, each child was able to remain at UrbanPromise. That wouldn’t have been possible without your support.
Because of your gift to our Emergency Family Fund, which offers financial assistance to families in need, UrbanPromise has been able to help pay students’ tuition, provide for basic necessities, and enable families to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
When I came back to work at UrbanPromise in 2010, that year’s kindergarten class—now 2nd graders—instantly became my favorite. The stories of each of the 18 students moved me and created a bond between us. By the time they arrived at UrbanPromise—at just five or six years of age—many had already experienced more incidents of personal trauma than most individuals will in a lifetime. But despite it all, they came running to school each day, excited to learn and spend time together, hugging and encouraging one another when they had a bad morning.
I mention these 18 students because the Emergency Family Fund has helped more than half of them remain in school over the past two and a half years. Support by donors like you has provided them with a structured and loving learning environment, even if their home situation is less than stable. 
I hope you’ll continue to aid in their development and ensure they are cared for and loved at UrbanPromise for years to come. Now more than ever—and especially during this Christmas season—a gift to the Emergency Family Fund will make a particularly significant impact in the lives of our youth.
Thank you for blessing our young people and families this holiday and throughout the year. 
P.S. If you are interested in sponsoring a specific family in need please contact Jodina Hicks, Executive Director, at or (856) 382-1851.


Subscribe to Blog: December 2012