Promoting the Integrity, Independence and Well-being of Working Families

Category Archive: 2. Foundation News


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    The Pascale Sykes Foundation is pleased to announce Richelle Todd-Yamoah as Vice President of Programs and Operations. In this position, Todd-Yamoah will oversee the Foundation’s Red Bank and Vineland, New Jersey, offices while strengthening the capacity of its grantees in support of the Foundation’s mission and Whole Family Approach. She will oversee the Foundation’s direct investment in Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester and Western Atlantic Counties through its South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative.

    Todd-Yamoah joins the Pascale Sykes Foundation from the Fellowship House of South Camden, where she served as Executive Director. Her guidance and direction provided support to children and families within the Camden community. Todd-Yamoah’s twenty years of experience in teaching, advocacy, international community development and program management coupled with her enthusiasm and zealous pursuit of social change make her an ideal addition to the Pascale Sykes Foundation family.

    Richelle is an alumna of the University of Maryland, College Park, and Rutgers University-Camden, where she, respectively, earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Fluent in French, Todd-Yamoah is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served in Cote D’Ivoire and Malawi. A Philadelphia native, she currently resides in Pine Hill, New Jersey, with her husband and two children.


  2. Our Reason Why

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    The Born This Way Foundation, which was founded by Grammy-award winner Lady Gaga, as well as the South Jersey First Star Collaborative, a college exposure program for children in foster care funded by the Pascale Sykes Foundation, and the Give Something Back Foundation, which provides mentors and scholarships to help Pell Grant eligible students go to college, came together for the installation of the “Our Reason Why” wall at The Monkey and the Elephant, a non-profit coffee shop in Philadelphia that employs former foster youth. This kindness popup will provide an outlet for young people to express their stories. 

    While at the coffee shop, Students from First Star assembled “kindness packages” for children in foster care. The students, along with other Give Something Back scholars, prepared kits which included hygiene supplies, comforters, pillows, hand-decorated journals, book bags, signed copies of the book Through the Fires, and other Lady Gaga merchandise. The “kindness packages” were personally delivered to children currently in foster care from Philadelphia in partnership with Turning Points.

    The theme of “Our Reason Why” was developed by one of the First Star youth during her project-based learning activity over the summer. The website that was created can be found at: “Our Reason Why” has become much more than a theme for a project, rather an inspiration of hope for our First Star youth and the young people they serve.

  3. Cumberland County Improvement Authority Breaks Ground for Innovative Food Specialization Center

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    New Jersey Community Capital’s THRIVE South Jersey Program

    Provides in Part Funding for $10 Million Project


    (BRIDGETON, NJ – October 26, 2017) – The Cumberland County Improvement Authority broke ground on a new, 32,000-square-foot facility that will provide dedicated manufacturing space for food processors, that can be outfitted to meet their specific production needs. This flexible space will be utilized by companies that “graduate” from the Rutgers FIC business incubator program, or as an R&D and/or Manufacturing facility for local, regional, national and international companies looking to establish a business operation in the Cumberland County region.

    Funding for the $10.5 million project will be provided in part by TD Bank and New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) through its New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) and THRIVE South Jersey programs. THRIVE South Jersey deploys flexible, affordable capital and technical assistance to generate quality jobs and improve economic opportunities across Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem, and Western Atlantic counties. NJCC partnered with the Pascale Sykes Foundation in December of 2014 to launch THRIVE, an economic initiative developed to address the challenges of poverty and unemployment in the targeted four-county region as part of Pascale Sykes’ South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative. Through NJCC’s NMTC program, $135 million has been deployed into transformative projects in low income communities.

    On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony were Jerry Velazquez, President/CEO, Cumberland County Improvement Authority, H. Louis Cooperhouse, Executive Director, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, New Jersey State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher, New Jersey 1st District Assemblymen Bruce Land and Bob Andrzejczak, Freeholders Joe Derella and Carol Musso, Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly and Laura Wallick, Program Manager, THRIVE South Jersey, New Jersey Community Capital.

    The Cumberland County Improvement Authority broke ground on Thursday, October 26, 2017, for an innovative, $10 million Food Specialization Center. Shown here from left to right are H. Louis Cooperhouse, Executive Director, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, Jerry Velazquez, President/CEO, Cumberland County Improvement Authority, Carol Musso, Board of Chosen Freeholders, Douglas Fisher, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen M. Sweeney, New Jersey Senate President, Joe Derella, Cumberland County Freeholder Director, Albert Kelly, Mayor of Bridgeton, Bruce Land, Assemblyman NJ 1st Legislative District, and Bob Andrzejczak, Assemblyman NJ 1st Legislative District

    The Cumberland County Improvement’s new 32,000-square-foot was made possible through funding by the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, U.S. Economic Development Authority, Cumberland Empowerment Zone Corporation, TD Bank and New Jersey Community Capital. Shown here from left to right are Jennifer Starkey, Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager, TD Bank, H. Louis Cooperhouse, Executive Director, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, Jerry Velazquez, President/CEO, Cumberland County, Laura Wallick, Program Manager, THRIVE South Jersey, New Jersey Community Capital, Gregory Carlisle, Senior Vice President and Regional Vice President, TD Bank, and Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly.

  4. Pascale Sykes Foundation Awards $1.5 Million Grant to New Jersey Community Capital’s THRIVE South Jersey Program

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    (VINELAND, NJ – September 8, 2017) – Frances P. Sykes, President of the Pascale Sykes Foundation, today announced that the Foundation has awarded $1.5 million in funding to New Jersey Community Capital’s (NJCC) THRIVE South Jersey program to support small business lending throughout New Jersey’s Heartland.

    The agreement that governs the funding, which should at minimum generate a dollar-for-dollar return in terms of additional loan commitments, directs that the grants be used solely for small business loans. It designates the funds be equally utilized for loans up to $100,000, between $100,000 and $150,000, and between $150,000 and $200,000.

    “New Jersey Community Capital, through it’s THRIVE South Jersey Program, has done a tremendous job generating additional loan commitments while funding a host of impactful economic development and business initiatives throughout New Jersey’s Heartland,” said Sykes, whose Foundation is on track to award more than $50 million in social service, transportation and economic initiative grants by the time it sunsets in 2022-23. “In working with NJCC, we saw a unique opportunity to generate additional funding commitments and small business loans in amounts that are needed and are proven to provide valuable returns throughout the region.”

    There are a variety of success stories the Foundation and THRIVE have written since the program’s inception, including a $30,000 loan issued to Andrea Covino, co-owner and chef of Andrea Trattoria Italiana in Downtown Millville, NJ, at the THRIVE kickoff in May of 2016. Since then, THRIVE has awarded $20,000 for the refurbishment of 13 storefront facades in the downtown Millville Arts District, as well as another $10,000 in funding for entrepreneurial training for 18 local, small business owners.

    Dreams of a Pocket Park facelift in the heart of Uptown Pitman, NJ, will soon become a reality thanks to a $15,000 THRIVE grant that was just presented by NJCC to the Pitman Chamber of Commerce. The grant will go towards the conversion of Theatre Avenue to Theatre Plaza, a new public space in the center of the downtown.

    “We are thrilled to partner with the Pascale Sykes Foundation, and honored they have chosen to demonstrate their faith in this important initiative through the additional $1.5 million grant,” says Wayne T. Meyer, President of NJCC, which is a US Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). “Creating quality job opportunities and strengthening residents’ connections to these opportunities will go a long way toward making South Jersey thrive.”

    The Pascale Sykes Foundation partnered with NJCC to create THRIVE, a dedicated financing and capacity building initiative created to address poverty and unemployment by catalyzing local economic development in the targeted, four-county region of Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem, and Western Atlantic Counties.

    The Foundation’s initial grant of $4.1 million has generated $26.125 million in funding commitments for THRIVE, which operates as an arm of the Foundation’s South Jersey Economic Initiative (SJEI) and supports a wide array of projects in the region. Included among those major projects is the Paulsboro Plaza, a once-thriving shopping center left vacant that is presently being developed to include a Save-a-Lot supermarket and 25,000 square feet of additional retail space to serve the local community.

    For more information on NJCC’s THRIVE South Jersey program, contact Laura Wallick at 267.397.1605 or email

  5. The Rt. 54/40 Community Shuttle: A Great Way to Get Around

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    Check out this fantastic article on the community shuttle for Rt. 54/40.

    Many people have asked me about the “little bus” that travels throughout Buena Borough along Route 40, S. West Boulevard, Central Avenue, and Wheat Road. It’s none other than the Rt. 54/40 Community Shuttle which has been helping residents who do not have reliable transportation to get to their place of employment, shopping centers in Hammonton, convenience stores, and most important, to stops that connect to NJ Transit. Read the full article here

  6. Why Fathers Leave Their Children By David Brooks

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    The keynote speaker at February’s Working Together for Working Families conference, David Brooks, writes an article about fatherhood from today’s New York Times

    “Millions of poor children and teenagers grow up without their biological father, and often when you ask them about it, you hear a litany of male barbarism. You hear teens describe how their dad used to beat up their mom, how an absent father had five kids with different women and abandoned them all.

    The children’s tales often reinforce the standard image we have of the deadbeat dad — the selfish cad who spreads his seed and leaves generations of wreckage in his wake.” READ FULL ARTICLE

  7. Community Shuttle Marks 2 Years With Week of Free Rides

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    Posted on May 23, 2017 at 4:21 PM on


    By Matt Gray


    June will mark the two-year anniversary of the Pureland East-West Community Shuttle and operators are marking the occasion with a week of free rides June 5-9.


    The shuttle — which runs across the county through Wiiliamstown, Glassboro, Mullica Hill and Swedesboro, ending at Pureland Industrial Park in Logan Township — was launched as an effort to address a public transit shortfall in Gloucester County.


    While NJ Transit offered plenty of north to south bus routes, residents had no way to easily travel east to west.


    A shuttle trip normally costs $1 each way, while a connecting circulator shuttle within Pureland is always free.


    The shuttle’s primary goal was to assist workers employed at Pureland, which is home to more than 180 businesses and more than 8,500 workers. Organizers have touted its value for others not headed for the industrial park who need a way to get to appointments, go shopping or catch a connecting NJ Transit bus.


    Interest in the line has grown steadily since its launch, with ridership increasing from 738 riders in June 2015 to 2,267 in June 2016. More than 3,000 riders used the service this past January.


    Between the first and second years, ridership has grown 54 percent, operators report.


    County officials say the new Pureland East-West Shuttle service is steadily gaining riders since launching in June.


    “While the growth of ridership has been tremendous, the program is really about helping people,” said United Way Executive Director Michael Gower. “We are improving lives of each individual who is provided with low cost transportation to reach their job. The vision of the United Way is to build better lives in Gloucester County. This is one way we are achieving our mission.”


    The shuttle is a collaborative effort between the United Way, Gloucester County government, the Pascale Sykes Foundation, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, NJ Transit, Heart of Gloucester County and Cross County Connection Transportation Management Association.


    Initial funding to support the shuttle came from $1.2 million in grants to be distributed over a three-year period.


    In addition to the week of free rides, operators have a few new features coming this year. Bike racks will be installed on the buses this summer. Five new enclosures will be installed for riders waiting for the shuttle in Logan Township.


    To learn more about the shuttle, go online to or call 856-614-1072.


    Matt Gray may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

  8. N.J. Jail Was Only One In The State To Get Grant To Help Inmates Get Jobs

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    BRIDGETON — Recidivism is one of the greatest problems faced by law enforcement officials.


    An inmate gets out of jail, gets back in trouble and is again behind bars.


    Cumberland County has been working to stem that tide and the effort has received a major boost with the award of a $500,000 Workforce PRO grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.


    “Many in the general public look at jails as a place where we merely discard individuals deemed unfit to live in society. A place of hopelessness where many believe we lock the doors, throw away the keys. Out of one’s sight out of one’s mind …..,” said Cumberland County Warden Richard Smith.


    “We come today to tell you a different story. One of redemption, one of renewal, one of hope.”


    In a ceremony Friday outside the jail in downtown Bridgeton, officials said only 11 of the Workforce PRO grants were awarded this year in the U.S. and only one in New Jersey — Cumberland County.


    The main goal of the program is to have ex-inmates get jobs and turn their lives around and not return to jail.


    The Cumberland County Jail currently has just under 400 inmates. Of those, 100 are eligible to take part in the expanded programs offered through the Cumberland County Department of Workforce Development through its specialized American Job Center initiative funded by the new grant.


    According to Smith, the grant will allow for the hiring of five staff members — three teaching inmates life skills, resume writing techniques and interviewing skills. The other two staff members will serve as job coaches working with employers on the outside to line up work for the inmates.


    “We want to try to marry the inmates with employment prior to them being released,” Smith said.


    The American Job Center initiative inside the jail will complement the Steps to Freedom Program, a therapeutic drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that addresses the addiction problems of inmates. That program was initiated by retired Warden Bob Balicki.


    “You’re dealing with addiction, you’re helping them to become job-ready, you’re reconnecting them with their families,” Smith said of program participants.



    Once the inmates leave the jail, they will continue to be able to take advantage of the Workforce Development programs offered at its Cumberland County College location, said executive director Allison Spinelli.



    “This grant opportunity is another really good example of how our agencies can work together for a positive result,” Freeholder Director Joe Derella said. “The specialized American Job Center initiative will provide our inmates with meaningful services that will prepare them for successful re-entry into the community. ”


    “Too many times we are reactive rather than taking a proactive approach to a positive outcome,” said Cumberland County Freeholder Carol Musso who helped secure the federal funds.


    Along with the Department of Workforce Development, other partners in the new jail program include Stronger Families, Pascale Sykes Foundation, Give Something Back Foundation, Temple Vision, United Advocacy Group, Cumberland County College, Bridgeton Police Athletic Leagues and the Greater Bridgeton Family Success Center.”


    The jail had offered some job-training programs, but nothing on the scale now possible.


    One of the success stories of the jail’s efforts in preparing inmates for life back on the outside is Benny Negron, 24, of Vineland. He spoke at Friday’s ceremony, tell those there that he had sold drugs because of what he described as an “addiction to fast money.”


    Thanks to the jobs-training program already offered to him while incarcerated, he was released and had a full-time work already secured.


    He proudly said Friday he’s been at the job for more than a year. He’s also enrolled at Cumberland County College, studying mechanical engineering.


    “It makes me feel accomplished knowing I am doing everything right,” Negron said.


    Smith hopes with this new grant and new partnerships there will be more success stories like the one Negron is now living.


    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find on Facebook.


  9. Wally Kappeler, Program Director, First Star Rowan Academy on Steve Adubato

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    Steve Adubato speaks with special guests that work with youths and communities of Bridgeton, NJ to help get students to prepare them for college and their future. Through Give Something Back, a scholarship will be made for students to have/had an incarcerated parent in Bridgeton, NJ. 

    Guests Include:
    Jennifer Henderson, Program Henderson, CASA of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties
    John Faqua, Family Advocate, Stronger Families
    Dirk Johnson, Co- Author, “Working Class to College”
    Wally Kappeler, Program Director, First Star Rowan Academy