Tawanda Jones’ home in the heart of Camden, N.J. is a busy place. Throughout the day, teens and preteens wander in and out, stopping to study at the kitchen table, grabbing a snack from the kitchen, or relaxing in front of the TV.
While all of these kids call Tawanda and her husband, Robert Jones, “mom and dad,” only four are actually hers. The rest are nearby residents of the neighborhood that Tawanda has united under the “Camden Sophisticated Sisters and Distinguished Brothers,” a dance and drumline nonprofit.
For 28 years, she has led the nonprofit that provides a safe haven to at-risk youth—to date, more than 4,000 children have been a part of the remarkable organization.
As Tawanda pushes her kids to follow their dreams and seek education, she realized that she should follow her own advice. Today, she is an undergraduate business student at Strayer University’s Center City Campus in downtown Philadelphia.
Here is her story.