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Featured Mini-Grantee | Athletes For a Better Community

2024-05-08T21:35:11-04:00May 8th, 2024|

Summer Camp for Jersey City Youth  

Athletes for a Better Community (ABC) helps young people in challenging urban environments build strong values and character through dedication, determination, discipline and conflict resolution. They encourage program participants to develop skills and become productive citizens. And they foster positive relationships between youth and local community civic, businesses and religious institutions. 

Thirty-three (33) year ago, Athletes for a Better Community was started by a native Jersey City athlete – Charles “Mandy” Johnson – who grew up in Marion Gardens, attended St. Anthony High School, and graduated from Marquette University.  He founded the organization to support underserved kids from places like Marion Complex, Duncan Complex and Van Wagenen Avenue, and help them mature into valued members of the community.


HealthierJC + Athletes for a Better Community

For the team at Athletes for a Better Community, building a Culture of Health means hosting community programs that promote a healthy body, mind, and soul in a safe nurturing environment.  As we all continue to struggle with the trauma of Covid-19, it has become increasingly important to adopt and maintain healthy habits.  

To promote healthy living, Athletes for a Better Community works jointly with HealthierJC, the Jersey City Police Department, community organizations like Hudson County Boys & Girls Club, and local businesses like Staples, Pizza Hut, Wonder Bagel, and Bhatt Law Group.


Mini-Grant Results

The HealthierJC mini-grant contributed to the free Athletes for a Better Community 2023 ABCKidz Summer Camp.  And with the help of Jersey City Department of Health & Human Services, they were able to serve camp attendees nutritious meals for breakfast and lunch.

The ABCKidz Summer Camp engaged kids in open space activities to enhance physical fitness.  The Pavonia Avenue Pool and Martucci ballfield were made available for sports venues, and experienced instructors coached kickball, soccer, track & field, flag football, basketball, and dodgeball.

In addition, lessons were conducted on daily journal writing, arts & crafts, movies, bowling, skating, music, karate and hip-hop dance. Guest speakers were invited to cover such topics as nutrition, personal health and safety, fire safety, and social interaction skills.  On three separate Fridays, HealthierJC accepted an invitation to speak for 90 minutes on healthier eating habits and anti-bullying tactics.  And to build relationship bonds, the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association sponsored a friends & family barbeque in late summer.

The six-week program ran weekdays in July and August, was conducted at 85 Giles Avenue in Jersey City.  Over 120 underserved children from the ages 5-14 were enrolled in the ABCKidz Summer Camp from neighborhoods across the city.


Making a Difference…

“I feel elated because it’s so important for urban kids
to get the best opportunity to grow and learn and develop.’’
—Charles Mandy Johnson, Founder and President, Athletes for a Better Community

Johnson understands that Jersey City youth, like many of their counterparts from urban cities, “are challenged by their environment daily – the challenge to either do right or do wrong.”

“Many of the kids have suffered through the trauma of obesity, and workshops gave them the opportunity to learn about nutrition”

Johnson believes that “…the participation of our youth in a structured, safe environment with meaningful activities can change their lives for the better.  Our year-round programming offers a positive alternative to the streets.”

Having benefitted from his mentor relationships at Saint Athony and other Jersey City youth programs, Johnson is committed to paying it forward, “It’s my baby, my passion, my way of giving back.”


Learn more about all the programs offered by Athletes for a Better Community and visit