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About the Center

The Community Leadership Center (CLC) is a service and research center at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Camden Campus.  The Center was created in 1990 by Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, a Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Public Policy & Administration at Rutgers, in order to help revitalize the nation’s second poorest city. 

Its mission is to provide new organizational environments and strategies in order to build urban communities; it also seeks to strengthen partnerships between community stakeholders and to develop new knowledge and strategic approaches to meet the changing needs of urban communities. 

The Center’s portfolio of programs has four main areas of focus: (1) Birth–16 Educational Investments and Innovation; (2) Academic Entrepreneurship and Service Learning; (3) Applied Research and Dissemination; and (4) Leadership and Community Development. 

Through leadership, collaboration, and research the Center has been recognized as a model program for revitalizing and advancing urban communities.  Since 1990, the Center has spearheaded several groundbreaking initiatives and programs like the Early Childhood Literacy Initiative Preschool, the Aspiring School Leaders MPA Cohort, the Alfredo Santiago Scholarship, and the Rutgers Jumpstart program. 

The Center’s most notable project was the multimillion-dollar Rutgers/LEAP Initiative, a comprehensive effort by Rutgers to improve opportunities for Camden children and families by creating the LEAP Academy University Public Charter School in 1997.  Since then all five of LEAP’s graduating classes have achieved 100% college acceptance with the help of the CLC's Centers of Excellence, which provide holistic support to students, teachers, and families. 

As an established institution for change in Camden, the Center is building on these successes and continuing its mission to transform the city through leadership and education with upcoming projects like the Rutgers Early Learning Research Academy (ELRA) and a new partnership with Rowan University to create a second LEAP Academy high school. 

The Mission
The mission of the CLC at Rutgers – Camden is to foster understanding and acceptance of providing
new organizational environments and strategies;
and to build bridges and partnership among urban communities, academia, and organizations for dealing with race relations and urban development. 

Through social action research, leadership development, training and community partnerships, the Center provides a forum for the analysis, discussion, and assessment of policy issues while developing new knowledge regarding strategic approaches to meet the changing needs of urban communities.