Sixers make $120K donation to Camden County Police youth program

The Philadelphia 76ers, looking to make an even greater impact in the community in which they train, are making a donation of $120,000 to the Camden County Police Department, the largest private donation ever.

The donation, made through the Sixers Youth Foundation, will fund youth fitness initiatives throughout Camden city, as it will be used to enhance and expand several programs in the Camden County Police Department’s Village Initiative, including the open gym and resource nights, Camden officials said.

Camden County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli was floored by the gesture — but noted it follows the effort the team has been making for some time.

“From the start, this agency has been focused on community engagement and facilitating a lifelong dialogue in order to become part of the fabric of the city,” he said. “This investment by the Sixers underscores the importance of the work we do with our residents on daily basis with a focus on our youth in Camden.

“I want to thank them for walking the walk and being an important part of our village here in Camden County.”

The Camden County Police Department’s community outreach team facilitates programming throughout the city for youth, including the popular Hoop it Up program every Thursday and Friday nights throughout the year.

In addition, other weekly programs include Bookmates, dodgeball, flag football, movie nights, block party barbecues and meet-the-officer events in the city and county park systems. Also, the department has set up mentor programs in the school district and has adopted families throughout the city among a variety of other initiatives.

The Camden County Police Department’s Village Initiative was formed in 2021 when Camden County Police Chief Gabriel Rodriguez gathered with more than 60 local community advocates, youth-serving programs, community leaders and residents to come up with a way to support the youth population in Camden. That first gathering showed that there was a clear need for more activities throughout the city that could build positive relationships between youth and their peers, leaders and the police department, and, from that, Open Gym and Resource Nights was born.

“This donation is a game-changer for the department and will allow us to continue showing up for our community,” Rodriguez said. “With this money, we can continue to host these events that give children and teenagers safe places to spend time and families to connect with needed services. These funds will also help support the department’s various other youth-centered initiatives around the city that include carnivals and block parties during summer months, reading programs and other events.”

Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen discussed how the donation will allow the city’s youth to continue accessing a safe space through the Open Gym nights.

“This is another prime example of responsible public-private partners, coming together to serve our community and support our youth,” he said.

Dana Redd, CEO of the Camden Community Partnership, expressed her gratitude for the donation and explained how investing in the city’s youth inevitability will benefit the future of Camden as a whole.

“Investment in our city’s youth is supporting a better and brighter future for the city of Camden — for tomorrow and for generations to come,” she said. “As future city residents, Camden youth play an integral role in fostering the economic prosperity and continued evolution of the city.

“Camden Community Partnership continues to support any programming or initiatives committed to the positive growth and healthy development of our city’s youth. As such, we extend a huge thank you to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Sixers Youth Foundation, Camden County Police Department, the city of Camden and Camden County for sharing in our mission and continuing to invest in Camden’s future.”

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) explained how this donation is more than just a monetary investment in Camden.

“This generous donation from the Sixers Youth Foundation exemplifies the true spirit of the phrase that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” he said. “This is so much more than funding a singular program — this is a real investment in Camden’s future, with significant impact on the lives of Camden’s youth and families for the years to come. The continued partnership between private, public and nonprofit entities here in Camden is unmatched and shows the world how we can all make a difference when we work together for a common goal.”