Blog: July 2016

Friday, July 1


When we started the StreetLeader program in 1994, we had to decide how to best use the start-up money raised: hire 75 teens, but no additional staff, or hire a full-time staff person and half the number of teens. Putting the StreetLeader name to the test, we hired 75 teens: these young people would be going straight from street to leader.  How would one person manage a program with 75 teens?  Idealistically, we believed that there would be some teens in the program with high-level leadership skills and character who would take on responsibility for co-leading the program.  We were right. 

Three young people became the first Field Supervisors. Demonstrating drive and commitment, they took on significant roles in managing and leading the program, and none more than Siomara Rivera, now Siomara (Sio) Wedderburn.  Sio started in the StreetLeader program at age 14. At age 15, she was managing a team of 10 of her peers; by age 16, she was managing a team of 30; and by age 17, she was running the first StreetLeader summer camp at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church. There she worked alongside the pastor's son, who is now her husband and father of their 3 children.  She graduated at the top of her class at Woodrow Wilson High School, attended Rutgers University while working as UrbanPromise Academy's first Spanish teacher, and later went on to get her MSW from Rutgers University. 

For the past 10 years, Sio has worked as a public servant in child protective services.  Born and raised in Camden, Sio has dedicated her life to working with children and fragile families in Camden, both vocationally and through her church's ministry.  I am thrilled to announce that she recently joined UrbanPromise's leadership team as Director of Children & Youth Ministries.  In this position, she has responsibility for managing UrbanPromise's after-school programs, summer camps, StreetLeaders, and interns. Sio embodies our vision that our alumni will return to invest in the next generation of UrbanPromise leaders and continue to nurture the city of Camden, one child at a time.     

Jodina Hicks
Executive Director

P.S. Next time you you are on the UrbanPromise campus be sure to stop into our Student Center and welcome Sio to the team!  

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