UrbanPromise has set a lofty goal of preparing all of the students in our camps, classrooms and after school programs for the rigors of higher education. We have a kindergarten through college commitment to make education affordable and attainable. This commitment has been enhanced greatly through a unique partnership with Eastern University, a private Christian university in St. Davids, PA. Eastern University has guaranteed scholarships valued at half the tuition to all students, staff and faculty of UP who meet the criteria for admission. In addition, they will provide 25 percent tuition grants for graduate studies at their Campolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies.
UrbanPromise and Eastern University share a common bond and a singular mission—to provide a first class education steeped in Christian values to students. UrbanPromise and Eastern University are cut from the same swath: a passion for faith, reason and justice. UrbanPromise was born out of Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE), headquartered at Eastern University, and directly inspired by EAPE founder Dr. Tony Campolo, renowned speaker, author, and sociology professor at Eastern University.
Since 1997, dozens of UP students have directly benefitted from Eastern University’s commitment “translating into hundreds of thousands of dollars saved for our graduates. Eastern has allowed young adults who never dreamed of attending college to graduate with a bachelor’s degree,” said Jodina Hicks, Executive Director of UrbanPromise.
The collaboration between the schools goes deeper than just making a college education affordable. Eastern University provides an advisory role at UrbanPromise and welcomes UP students to open houses and information sessions, helping prospective students see themselves at and prepare for college. At the same time UrbanPromise provides opportunities for Eastern Students to put their faith and academics into action through internships and service projects in Camden.
“UrbanPromise is one of those unusual organizations that habitually excels at over-achievement. Through compelling vision, inspired leadership, creative programming and dedicated people, UrbanPromise has delivered bright futures to hundreds of Camden's children annually for a quarter century. It is our great privilege to be a part of that story of hope and transformation," explained Eastern University Executive Vice President M. Thomas Ridington, PhD.
The partnership has proven not just beneficial for the UP students who are preparing for a four year college experience but for the University who has come to understand the quality and commitment of the students drawn from UrbanPromise. “It takes a certain skill set to be partnered. You have the biological knowledge of the organization. What are the parts, where are they located, how do they work, what do they do,” said Mumia Parham, Executive Director of Partnership for Eastern University. Then there is your spiritual connection. “UrbanPromise embodies all the necessary ingredients to make a well-oiled partnership. I not only support this organization professionally but also personally on every level. UP is one of Eastern’s top-tier partnerships.”
“Because of this successful and evolving partnership, the community of Camden, and places far beyond, have been changed for the better,” said Hicks. “Graduates of UrbanPromise and Eastern University are now serving urban communities throughout the country as social workers and teachers, medical professionals and business owners.”
Past and current students from UP who have gone on to study at Eastern University agree.
“Eastern University taught me how to integrate my faith in every aspect of my life. I was challenged to question my beliefs and to understand opposing views. I continue to be inspired in discovering new growth in myself,” said Jamie Echegoyen, a former UP intern and Camp Director who graduated from Eastern University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Missiology and Anthropology.
Sophomore Tam Do looked at several colleges during his senior year at Camden County Vocational High school, but even with scholarship offers, the cost was prohibitive. The scholarship from Eastern University brought a private four year education within reach for him, the first person in his family to attend college. “I wanted to go to college. At UrbanPromise, I always heard about alumni going off to college, graduating and doing big things. That was an inspiration to me.”
Do is studying finance and accounting and believes his time at Eastern is setting him not only on a path for a successful career, but on a spiritual path as well, one that will most certainly circle back. “I hope to get back to UrbanPromise and inspire the next generation.”