Camden Community Partnership: Camden Dream Jobs

Job Training with Camden Community Partnership

When career day comes around, elementary school kids across the country dream big. Doctors, lawyers, astronauts – and for so many – careers with their favorite professional sports team. 

In Camden, that dream may just come true. 

And we aren’t talking a job or 2 – the Sixers’ goal is to give Camden residents employment opportunities big and small, says Lara Price, chief operating officer of the Philadelphia 76ers and vice board chair of Camden Community Partnership.

“Since the moment we decided to come to Camden, the city has been there for us – and no one more than Camden Community Partnership,” says Price. “They invited us into their community from the very beginning. It feels right to give back to the community we’re part of.”

Lara Price, chief operating officer of the Philadelphia 76ers and vice board chair of Camden Community Partnership

“These jobs and training opportunities are a part of Camden Community Partnership’s ‘Camden Works’ program, which provides employment and job training opportunities to Camden residents through partnerships and placements with local businesses,” says Dana Redd, president and CEO of Camden Community Partnership and former Camden Mayor. “Through the program, Camden residents can access employment opportunities, workforce development, job training, case management and employee support for everything from entry-level positions to more senior, specialized jobs.” 

“When Camden Community Partnership approached us about the program, we immediately knew we wanted to be a part of it,” says Price. “It felt important. In the past, whenever we’ve needed something, the Partnership and the city itself have been there for us.”

Every year, Camden Works sponsors a Career and Employment Fair, where 150 residents attend to access more than 40 employers.

The Sixers are just the latest to join in this effort. Camden Community Partnership has teamed up with some of the state’s top organizations to develop a robust and effective program – leaning on The New Jersey NAACP, Latin American Economic Development Association, Center for Family Services, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, Camden County Workforce Development Board and Hopeworks for their expertise and guidance. Thanks to this collaboration, many of the city’s top employers have joined the effort. 

Being part of Camden Works has made the Sixers review its hiring practices to see what changes they could make to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in their organization, says Price, such as removing the requirement that new hires must have a college degree. 

“There’s value in putting someone’s talent and commitment above their experience, especially if those experiences aren’t possible for everyone,” she says.  

If you’re not afraid to pick up the phone, the program will train you in customer service. If you’re the most persuasive person in the room, it’ll teach you sales. 

“It’s partnering people with their interests,” says Price. “If you love connecting with people online, social media might be the perfect department for you. Love music? At the Sixers, we have someone play music for every game and every event. And of course, we have your typical departments like human resources and finance. There really is something for everyone.”

What sets the Camden Works program apart, says Price, is that it’s not just a financial contribution – it’s an investment in the actual people of Camden as well as an investment in local businesses. 

“We aren’t just training people to work at the Sixers – the entire program is giving them training for the larger Camden job market,” says Price. “We’re a very specialized business, but the skills you learn can translate into almost any industry. So many people think, ‘Well, it’s just about basketball,’ but really, that’s not true. We have operations, sales, coaching and leadership, communications and logistics. So many pieces fit together to make this team what it is.” 

When the Camden Works program launched in 2019, it filled a vital role in helping the community combat the then-7.8% unemployment rate. But program leaders had no idea just how vital this opportunity would become until the pandemic hit, bringing with it a sharp increase in the unemployment rate – to 22% – in 2020. 

And even after more Camden residents returned to work in the years to follow and the unemployment rate started to improve, one thing was clear – Covid-19 changed the workforce in ways no one could have predicted. Instead of seeing that as a setback, it became an opportunity. Through the Camden Works program, residents could find the job training and development they needed to jump into a changing workforce. 

These skills, says Price, aren’t just for the corporate world. 

“There’s such a strong emphasis on supporting local businesses, especially since the pandemic,” says Price. “Small businesses are at the heart of Camden’s culture. By providing this type of training, we help small businesses hire local people who care about their community’s impact and bring skills and knowledge they may not have gotten otherwise.” 

“One of the highlights of Camden Works multi-organizational effort is case management, offered in collaboration with the Center for Family Services,” says Redd. “This is what makes the program about more than just finding a job – it’s building relationships with employers in Camden, offering job training, finding referrals, learning resume and interviewing skills and receiving support at every stage of the employment journey.”

 Residents work one-on-one with a case manager to document their progress, set goals, troubleshoot issues and celebrate everything they’ve accomplished. 

“It doesn’t stop at adults. We’re also training the future workforce,” says Price. 

Camden Community Partnership teamed up with the Camden Education Fund to start a local internship program, which offers current seniors who are non-college bound the opportunity to get hands-on exposure and training in industries that offer significant upward mobility and contribute back to the City of Camden. 

This also includes collaborating with the Camden Education Fund to develop a college-level internship program, Career Link. The program aims to identify and recruit college students that graduated from Camden high schools to intern at local companies during the summer. 

For the Sixers, this is another way to reinvest in the city and its people. And in turn, Price says, the people of Camden bring new energy, perspective and experience to the team itself.

“We can feel the pride that Camden felt for having their home basketball team become part of their city,” she says. “We can feel it everywhere we go, with everything we do. Bringing people directly into the organization not only lets them be part of this, but it also helps shape us in a unique and authentic way we wouldn’t get otherwise.”

It’s even more important through talks of building a new stadium in Philadelphia’s Fashion District. 

“We’re not going anywhere,” says Price. “This is our home. This is our community, and we want to give back to it as much as we can, which is why Camden Community Partnership has been such a great organization to work with.”

“Because we are here,” she says, “we  want to make sure we play our part in helping shape this community.”


Ferry Terminal Building
2 Aquarium Drive, Suite 310, Camden
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