Camden Community Partnership: Transforming neighborhoods, one park at a time


When Dana Redd first started on her path as a public servant, she was full of dreams for improving her hometown, the City of Camden. But even she had a difficult time visualizing how urban areas fallen on hard times could become beautiful, safe gathering places for Camden residents.

“It was a very different city back then,” recalls Redd, the CEO and president of the Camden Community Partnership (CCP), formerly known as Coopers Ferry Partnership. “So much has shifted in the past 2 decades. Residents have hope again. They’re inspired to be part of the change that is happening all around them.”

One of the keys to this remarkable turnaround has been the greening of Camden. A private, non-profit corporation dedicated to planning and implementing high-quality urban redevelopment projects, CCP has brought more than $2.5 billion in strategic investments through partnerships with foundations and local corporations, including Subaru, The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, NFI and many others. In what is considered one of its most essential goals, CCP has worked with the City of Camden and Camden County to fix up existing green spaces, remediate former industrial sites and turn them into new parkland.

“We completely understand that parks and public spaces are about more than just recreation,” says Redd, most recently the CEO of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors and a former Camden mayor. “They are a necessary part of our public infrastructure that contributes to community well-being, sustainability and resiliency. Parks also serve as a catalyst for racial and social equity. Investment in these public spaces is helping to transform neighborhoods, and to create safe spaces for residents to come together.”

Among the biggest success stories, Cramer Hill Waterfront Park, a 62-acre urban oasis, debuted last year after 5 years and $48 million of work, which was spearheaded and funded by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The site of the former Harrison Avenue Landfill, the park is now a sustainable and resilient gathering place on the banks of the Cooper River, offering access to both nature and the Cooper River.

Another cause for celebration is the newly opened Whitman Park. Together with the City, County, NJDEP, USEPA, and the Jaws Youth Playbook, this park renovation “is a shining example of our continued commitment to improve open spaces in our neighborhoods and how partnerships make Camden Strong,” says Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen.

Redd notes that successes lead to more successes. Earlier this year, Horizon Foundation of New Jersey awarded CCP a grant to improve the health and well-being of youth and families in Camden by tackling obesity, addressing social determinants of health and promoting new programs that integrate wellness and health in the city’s public spaces and facilities.

“It was such a joy to announce the funding and be part of a family cooking challenge and other fitness events,” Redd says. “We recognize the importance of making really strategic investments that support our mission here at CCP, which is to serve as a catalyst for the preservation and growth of a vibrant Camden.”


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