A multi-year commitment from the Schwartz Foundation is helping CMSRU’s Primary Urban Partnership expand its reach.
The Primary Urban Partnership (PUP) – which provides 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the City of Camden with early exposure to health professions and health topics – was in place before the charter class arrived or the medical school building was complete. “It was important for us to have a presence in the community early on, and to let the residents of Camden know that our school was going to be a resource for the City’s youth,” said Jocelyn Mitchell-Williams, MD, PhD, Associate Dean for Diversity and Community Affairs. Dr. Mitchell-Williams’ department manages the PUP program along with all of CMSRU’s other youth-based initiatives and service projects.
The program started with just 15 students. Thanks in part to a five-year grant from the Schwartz Foundation, PUP has increased enrollment to 50 and CMSRU medical students work with PUP students weekly. Joshua DeSipio, MD, a practicing physician and CMSRU faculty member, represents the Schwartz Foundation. “The foundation is focused on education for elementary age students in underserved areas, so PUP is a great fit. We are very proud to support a program that is thriving and we hope others will join us,” says Dr. DeSipio.
Currently, PUP works with Wiggins Elementary School in the Bergen Square neighborhood of Camden. CMSRU students and faculty visit the classrooms to present health-related topics like anatomy, the brain, effects of smoking, facts about sugar, DNA, and a healthy heart. CMSRU students also provide reading and math tutoring in small groups, and in December they hosted a special holiday-themed event in the medical school building.
The PUP program engages young people in science and medicine in a fun way, and it also introduces them to health-related career paths. “A lot of these kids struggle academically, emotionally, and financially,” said Dr. Mitchell-Williams. “One of the most important things that we can do is provide them with positive role models and help them discover a pathway of learning that will lead to happy and productive adult lives.”
The Schwartz Foundation made a generous $25,000 pledge in support of PUP in 2012.