Aspen Institute, Sixers Youth Foundation and Camden Advisory Group Unveil ‘State of Play’ Report on Camden Youth Sports


CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY – MAY 27, 2021 – Today, a comprehensive report was released assessing the landscape of sport activities for youth in the city of Camden, with recommendations on how stakeholders can work together to build healthier children through sports. “State of Play Camden” is an independent report produced by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program through its Project Play initiative, in partnership with the Sixers Youth Foundation and with input and guidance of a Camden Advisory Group comprised of local community leaders, businesses, and medical and education professionals.

Findings for this report were collected through a variety of sources including input from project advisory group members, individual interviews with stakeholders and community members, focus-group discussions with youth, youth surveys, media accounts, existing reports, policy analyses and publicly available data collected by the Aspen Institute with support from Ellen Staurowsky, former Drexel University sport management professor.

“We hope this report makes a meaningful contribution in identifying the gaps in access to sport for youth in Camden and how stakeholders can work together to fill them, said Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program. “No one organization or even sector can do this alone. It will take collaboration, innovation, and investment with an equity lens by all who care about this historic city to give all children the types of activities they want and need. Great benefits await, with a shared commitment to progress.”

State of Play Camden is the Aspen Institute’s 10th overall community report. The Aspen Institute has produced county reports on Seattle/King County, Washington and Mobile County, Alabama; a state report on Hawaii; regional reports on Southeast Michigan, Western New York, Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes, and Central Ohio; and local reports on Harlem and Baltimore. Stakeholders in those communities have taken actions based on the recommendations and are seeing results.

“We are proud to support the work of The Aspen Institute, a leader in providing key insights through decades of research that help strengthen communities across the United States,” said Sixers Youth Foundation Chair Marjorie Harris. “We believe the findings of this report are vital in maximizing the effective allocation of funds to serve Camden youth. We look forward to utilizing this information to create more opportunities for local children to participate in sports and organized play.”

A full version of the report can be at of which key findings are highlighted below.

  • Participation in team sports, in both organized and casual form, declines from 71% in elementary school to 65% in middle school and down to 59% in high school for students in Camden.
  • A youth survey found that 59% of girls regularly play sports, compared to 72% of boys. Boys are three-and-a-half times more likely to play on a travel team and twice as likely to play on a rec center team than girls. There is a great need for more youth sports programs for girls.
  • Basketball is the most-played sport among Camden youth, and it is also the sport that youth most often say they would like to try. There is certainly a demand for more youth basketball programs among both girls and boys.

Based on the findings, the Aspen Institute made the following recommendations:

  • Create community partnerships to make the Kroc Center more accessible to city youth.
  • Start a citywide middle school sports league.
  • Use the power of the permit — the recognized authority of government agencies to manage public property — to promote coaching standards and equitable facility use.
  • Recruit college students to become youth coaches.
  • Annually track female sports participation and interests.
  • Create and market online resources to promote access to sports facilities.

With a passionate sports culture and collective action, Camden can provide more equitable access to and higher quality of sport, physical activity, and recreation opportunities for children. This can be accomplished through a joint commitment — by schools, local government agencies, nonprofits, and the business community — to the health and well-being of our next generation.

While the State of Play report will help to inform strategies for the Sixers Youth Foundation, the hope is that the community leaders will come together to implement tangible action based on the findings of the report.


Established in 2015, the Sixers Youth Foundation is the nonprofit extension of the Philadelphia 76ers and a regional philanthropy focused on youth development across the Delaware Valley. The Foundation believes in utilizing the power of sport and the influence of the 76ers brand to inspire future generations in the communities where our fans live, work and play. For more information, visit


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. An initiative of the Institute’s Sports & Society Program, Project Play develops, applies, and shares knowledge that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sport. Since 2013, hundreds of entities across the U.S. and abroad, from professional leagues to grassroots providers, governments to community foundations, have introduced programs or shaped youth strategies based on Project Play’s framework to get and keep children active through sports. For more information, visit:

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