Camden Repertory Theater Community Development Group


809 S. 8th Street
Camden, NJ 08103
County: Camden


Professor Desi P Seck

Grant Amount


Program Area


Grant Details

For project support of the music and theatre arts Preparing Artists for College Entrance (PACE) program serving Camden students.

Organization Background

Camden Repertory Theater is dedicated to providing transformative opportunities for urban communities through the power of performing arts. Our theater arts training and performances serve a range of individuals--school-aged youth to adults. With innovative works directed by acclaimed artists, CRT has produced nearly a dozen mainstage plays and artist residencies that broaden cultural horizons throughout the region.

CRT's Preparing Artists for College Entrance (PACE) began in the summer of 2007, as a ten week summer program, created to provide twelve high school students of Camden Repertory Theater extensive craft development, stipends for teaching elementary and middle school students, and structured environment during the heightened summer murder rates of Camden City. PACE has since evolved to a yearlong program that uses the arts as a catalyst to increase high school graduation rates and college matriculation. PACE provides jobs and apprentice training for returning college students, and offers much needed supplementary education in written language, cultural, financial, and emotional literacy. PACE's arts education exposes the students of Camden to new worlds of possibility, while incentivizing hard work for completion of goals. This paradigm disrupts the endemic cycle of Camden's poverty, by giving students the necessary tools and self-confidence to excel and pursue college degrees.

Desi P. Shelton, the Founding Artistic Director is a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award Winner and recently cited by Nathalie Kylander of the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government as the only theater in Camden using the arts to build community. She received the Valentine Foundation Executive Leadership Fellow given to women executives. Jamal Dickerson, the PACE program founder is a 2014 Grammy Educator Nominee and recipient of the NAACP Crystal Award and a Milken Award Winner. Joseph Streater our new Program Associate Director is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, and a student of the original 2007 PACE class, has performed with Cyrus Chestnut, Jaleel Shaw, and many jazz greats. Our program partner, Unity Community African Dance Ensemble has won an Emmy for Musical Thread and performs regularly at venues across the country, including Lincoln Center, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the TODAY Show.

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