By Steve Tawa

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — The City of Camden, NJ, has rolled out the third of four neighborhood centers to give parents resources to help their children succeed in school.

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Just across the street from the Sumner Elementary School, in the city’s Liberty Park neighborhood, the program at Isabel Miller Community Center includes skill-building tips on health and wellness, career readiness, and family bonding.

Merilee Rutolo, of the Center for Family Services, says the initiative includes one-on-one literacy tutoring.

“One of our priority goals here will be implementing our ‘Born To Read’ program, which is part of the national campaign for grade level reading,” she said.

Camden schools superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard (at right in photo) says the school district’s grade-level literacy rate in grades 3 through 8 is only 21 percent.  “It’s a huge challenge, and this is one of many efforts to make sure that we try to lift the bar of excellence for our kids,” he said today.  “When families are involved in their child’s education, those children ultimately are far more successful later in life.”

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Camden mayor Dana Redd says city officials are committed and focused on improving academic outcomes, and getting young people at grade-level reading by third grade, and beyond.

“In the past, folks worked in silos,” Redd said today.  “I can tell you those silos have been torn down, and we’re all working together, pushing in the same direction.”

The parent centers are a partnership between City Hall and the school district.


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