The Work

HTEI is committed to providing resources and opportunities for family, friends, and neighbors to advance equitable causes in their town.  Below are links to some of the ways we are making this happen!

As you dive into getting involved with HTEI, we suggest you become familiar with some of the best resources our group has come across regarding identity, bias, and how to engage in productive dialogue on these important topics.
HTEI is committed to amplifying the voices, businesses and creative endeavors of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our local community. Our Friday Feature posts on social media shine a spotlight on the amazing work of BIPOC and allies.
HTEI will often publish children's literature reading lists to compliment heritage months, holidays, and events throughout the year.  You can also find these lists right here.  Each cover image below is linked directly to CamCat, the Camden County Library System's online catalog.
HTEI has been organizing a series of virtual town hall meetings to raise awareness and understanding around key topics affecting community members.  Have a look for some recordings of our most recent sessions!

Recent highlights

Trailblazers Trolley Tour: Black History Month 2024

In a memorable journey down Haddon Avenue, the Haddon Township Equity Initiative (HTEI) and Ida's Bookshop led a vibrant celebration of Black heritage in the South Jersey region. The event unfolded as an enlightening exploration, showcasing the rich Black history, diverse culinary traditions, and the spirited culture of South Jersey. Participants had the unique opportunity to engage with historical narratives through expert-guided tours, delight in authentic flavors at various food stops, and immerse themselves in live performances and art exhibitions. A special highlight was the curated selection of books by Ida’s Bookshop that celebrated Black voices, alongside showcases of artistic expression by Black-owned businesses in the area.

The day was not just about celebration but also about community and support, with every tour stop emphasizing the importance of local Black-owned businesses. Products and pop-up events specifically curated for the tour provided a platform for creativity and expression, drawing attention to the talent and craftsmanship within the Black community. With tickets priced at $25 per person and tours designed for intimate groups of 30, participants enjoyed an engaging experience that lasted approximately 5 hours, starting from Ida’s Bookshop in Collingswood. This event not only enriched the participants' understanding of the local Black heritage but also strengthened the community's unity and appreciation for its diverse cultural fabric.

2023 Holiday Season Mutual Aid Drive

This past holiday season, the Haddon Township Equity Initiative (HTEI) and Haddon Township collaborated in a heartfelt effort to bring holiday cheer to local families facing challenges. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity and spirit of the community, we successfully collected enough donations to support 25 local families, ensuring their holiday was filled with joy and warmth.

Through our organized collection drive, community members were invited to select and donate items via a Sign Up Genius link, contributing a variety of gifts and necessities, as well as Amazon, Target, and Acme gift cards. All donations were gathered at designated drop-off locations across the township by the deadline of December 20, meticulously labeled to ensure they reached the intended recipients. Our call to spread the word was met with enthusiastic response, significantly amplifying our impact. We extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who participated—your generosity has not only provided essential support but also fostered a stronger, more connected community. As we reflect on this achievement, it's clear that together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of our neighbors, spreading love and cheer when it's needed most.

Speech at the Collingswood event from Jeannine A. Cook, owner of Ida's & Harriett's Bookshops

Juneteenth 2023

In 2023, as we reveled in the historic Juneteenth celebrations, we also took a moment to honor the deep significance Juneteenth holds in our shared history, and its influence on our path towards a more equitable future.

On Saturday, June 17th, 2023, the communities of Cherry Hill and Collingswood blossomed into a spectacular display of unity, cultural richness, and an enduring respect for heritage. The day kicked off with the Juneteenth Parade & Festival at Croft Farm, orchestrated by the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association (CHAACA). We were both humbled and proud to join as a Platinum Sponsor, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with this event that celebrated community resilience.

Our HTEI tent played host to Jeannine A. Cook, the esteemed owner of Ida’s & Harriett’s Bookshops. Jeannine offered an exceptional contribution with a banned book pop-up, championing literacy, intellectual freedom, and offering rare finds for personal collectors or those donating to local school districts.

CHAACA's event was further enhanced by the wide array of Black-owned businesses and organizations. Vendors and tabling organizations dotted the landscape, weaving together an atmosphere pulsating with community engagement and vibrant conversations. As the day unfolded, a myriad of performances set the stage aglow, each resonating with the soulful spirit of Juneteenth, notably the effervescent performance by the Camden High School Marching Band.

The festivities continued into the evening in Downtown Collingswood, with the "Unity in the Community: A Juneteenth Celebration" serving as a heartening testament to the strength of community bonding and the importance of remembrance.

As we marked Juneteenth this year, we not only commemorated the end of slavery in the U.S., but also embraced our ongoing commitment to fostering equity and justice within Cherry Hill, Haddon Township, Collingswood, and beyond. These local celebrations are poignant reminders of our community's strength and resilience when united in purpose.

The Color Purple: Truth in Reconciliation

On Sunday, February 26th, 2023,  we hosted our second “In Our Backyard” community conversation, facilitated by Minista Jazz, entitled "The Color Purple: Truth in Reconciliation". The conversation was a powerful reminder that, just like the color purple, our lives are complex and full of contrasting experiences. Through the lens of the novel, we explored themes of oppression, resilience, love, and redemption. We learned the parallels of life and the relationship between the rose and it's thorns.  Just like the thorns protect the rose, when approaching "uncomfortable" conversations, we should remember to handle with care. By showing up with courage, curiosity, and compassion, we created a safe space to engage in difficult conversations and learn from one another.

Thank you to Minista Jazz for guiding us through this journey of self-discovery and growth, to our community partners The Ritz Theatre Co for allowing us the physical space to connect, Ida's Bookshop for the Alice's Bookshop pop-up collaboration, and to everyone who attended the events.

HTEI Night at The Ritz: The Color Purple

During Black History Month, on February 22nd, 2023, HTEI's "Night at the Ritz" was held. HTEI was able to support the all-Black cast of the Ritz's production of 'The Color Purple' for a SOLD OUT performance at the local Ritz Theatre Company.  Because of your generous donations, as a 100% volunteer-run local non-profit, we were able to cover the cost of attendance for nine local nonprofits, community organizations (especially their youth members), and over 75 students from schools in four local school districts, as well as support the fundraising efforts of the NAACP Camden County East Youth Council.

Choose Love Movement Book Donations

In January 2023, HTEI worked alongside Ida’s Bookshop and the Haddon Township School District in support of the Choose Love Movement curriculum to bring more inclusive book choices to the HTSD elementary classrooms.  HTEI and Ida's Bookshop were honored to be able to purchase and donate nearly 100 books, curated by local librarian and HTEI cofounder, Ruth Malwitz, in an effort to diversify our school libraries.

GSA Youth Event

In November 2022, we hosted members from six Camden County high school GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) and Social Justice clubs, for an evening of connection, community-building, and learning about service and advocacy!  Our heartfelt thanks to Cherry Hill East for hosting the event, to the educators, partnering organizations, and HTEI volunteers who continue to show up to love and support our local LGBTQ+ youth and allies.  A big thanks to our community partners GLSEN Southern New Jersey, PFLAG Collingswood, Jefferson Health, Appel Farm, Kaleidoscope, Stockton University Center for Community Engagement & Service-Learning and YES!

In Our Backyard: Community Conversations

In November 2022,  HTEI hosted the first in a series of community conversations titled “In Our Backyard.” As an organization that started in a Haddon Township backyard, it’s only fitting that we continue this work in the same casual setting where ALL are welcome to show up and contribute.  The discussion was an opportunity for all to join us to share, listen, and learn a bit more about our community and the people in it.

Cathedral Kitchen Drive

In August 2022, HT showed up and delivered over 400 sandwiches to our friends at Cathedral Kitchen! Cathedral Kitchen is the largest emergency food provider in Camden, NJ, serving more than 100,000 meals a year and their mission is to help people out of food insecurity and champion their pursuit of stability and prosperity.

HTEI is honored to continue partnering with the Haddon Township Government and Mayor Randy Teague to put on our town's Pride Parade & Events! We're excited to continue providing this opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community members, neighbors, and allies.

Black History: A Night of Cultural Celebration & Education

In February 2022,  we had the complete honor of partnering with Ida’s Bookshop & The Ritz Theatre Company to bring you, "Black History: A Night of Cultural Celebration & Education". Special thanks to Aunt Berta’s Kitchen for warming the hearts and bellies of our attendees with their local home cooked soul food, and to Camden County Historical Society for fueling our minds with very important local history.

Local Coat Drive

In December 2021, HTEI, in partnership with Melanin on Wheels & Be the Village NJ collected over 100 coats, hats, gloves, scarves and socks to distribute to our neighbors.  HTEI is proud to support Melanin on Wheels & Be The Village - community-based organizations that encompass education, mentorship, and volunteerism through culinary arts - so we can come together as a community to keep those around us warm (inside and out) during the holiday season.

Local Coat Drive

On August 9, 2020 HTEI held a rally at Newton Lake Park to honor the lives of Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain and join the cry that JUSTICE BE SERVED! Community members gathered together in this demonstration  to reflect, speak, and listen a live performance by musicians Hannah Fields & Blair Kidd. The rally ended with a march around Newton Lake.

Poster artwork by Amelia Moore @ameliamooretattoos Retrospect article on Rally for Justice: Thank you to Bethany Mitros @the_retrospect for covering our recent rally at Newton Lake Park