MacArthur genius grant winner to establish health center in Camden
When the leader of your non-profit gets recognized as social 'genius' that brings national attention — and maybe some positive reverberations for the city you serve.
2013 MacArthur Fellows Program grantee Jeffrey Brenner leads Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. Most recently his team won nearly $9 million in funding to establish a National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs.
Chief Operating Officer Jared Susco says the money will be largely spent on salaries for coalition employees who eat lunch and shop in the city.
The coalition had about 50 employees three years ago, today there are 100 workers.
The non-profit group is probably best known for its work helping people with the life challenges that make it hard to stay healthy.
The clients include people who overuse the health system, patients who are frequent fliers in the emergency room.
Susco says as it has grown, the coalition tapped local talent especially for the care coordination team.
"Which is largely staffed by people who are born and raised from Camden. So there's community health workers, nurse care manager, social worker, those are the names of those kinds of jobs," Susco said.
Young public-service volunteers from Hopeworks 'N Camden have also come to the coalition gotten skills and later earned a job, Susco said.
Nancy Pope-White — who's lived in Camden for 35 years — is board chair of the community advisory council. She says the coalition's building on Cooper Street is part of a hub of activity that includes LEAP Academy University Charter School, Rowan University and a new nursing science building for Rutgers University, Camden.
"The coalition and that area grew up together. Like a big bang theory the whole area is just booming," she said.
Pope-White won't go so far to say that the coalition is an "economic engine" for the city, but she said good attracts good.
The National Center's first conference is in December with Geoffrey Canada, president of the Harlem Children's Zone in New York.
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