Chester Youth Collaborative: Helping Create a Future for Chester Youth
- The mission of the Chester Youth Collaborative is to foster a neighborhood-based youth development network that enhances the quality of life and increases opportunities for youth between the ages of 12 and 22 in the city of Chester.
- The CYC is divided into four councils, with each council responsible for specific areas of work to advance the mission of the Collaborative.
- The CYC supports youth-serving organizations throughout Chester. It also works to create new programs that provide mentoring, critical skills-building, workforce and academic opportunities.
- Because of its efforts, the CYC was named the “official youth development resource” for the city of Chester.
In 2005, the Chester Youth Collaborative (CYC) was
launched with a start-up grant from the William Penn Foundation. The CYC’s
mission is to foster a neighborhood-based youth development network that
enhances the quality of life and increases opportunities for youth between the
ages of 12 and 22 in the city of Chester.
The CYC is divided into four councils, with each
council responsible for specific areas of work to advance the mission of the
Youth Serving Organizations Council focuses on increasing the quality and
number of programs available to Chester youth
Advisory Council focuses on identifying partnerships to expand and sustain
the work of the CYC
Community Council focuses on increasing public awareness about the work of
the CYC, strategies for building on strengths of youth, and strategies to
help youth avoid risk-taking behavior
Youth Council focuses on inspiring youth to be change agents in their
community, working with community partners on service projects and hosting
annual youth-led “Youth Empowerment Summits.”
In addition to supporting the youth-serving
organizations affiliated with the Collaborative in their efforts to continually
improve quality and capacity, the Chester Youth Collaborative works to create
new programs that provide mentoring, critical skills-building, workforce and
A few of these programs include:
Fargo “Chester College Bound” Program
“Express Yourself” Forums
County Community College “Student Success Program”
Chester Entrepreneurial Program
Beyond raising awareness of issues affecting older
youth, a major thrust of the CYC’s work has been to implement a
capacity-building system for youth programs in Chester. Through a partnership
with United Way of Southeast PA Center for Youth Development (CYD), staff of
network organizations can assess the strengths and weaknesses of their
programs, receiving the training and technical assistance necessary to improve
their program quality.
To date, over 25 programs in the city of Chester
have taken advantage of 1,756 hours of free training, technical assistance, and
capacity-building opportunities, including a collaborative-wide data management
system called “ETO” (Efforts-to-Outcomes) to help partner organizations
effectively measure the impacts of their programs.
The Chester Youth Collaborative intentionally began
working with the Office of the Mayor of Chester to institutionalize the gains
it has made for individual programs serving Chester youth. This partnership led
to the CYC being named the “official youth development resource” for the city
of Chester in 2007.
Since that time, CYC staff and partners have
advocated for the development of specific strategies to bring the
Collaborative's efforts to a city-wide scale. Some of these specific
development of a set of Chester Core Standards for Older Youth Programs in
re-establishment of “Chester Junior Mayor and City Council”
to yield a Youth Public Policy Agenda that addresses: quality
“out-of-school time” programming; post-secondary options; workforce
preparation; and health/wellness.
The primary beneficiaries of the CYC’s efforts are
the youth of Chester. One such example is Nefetaria Yates. Yates is presently
pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in African American
Studies, at the University of Delaware (Class of 2012). She was involved in the
CYC’s Youth Council and Swarthmore College Advance Program for her junior and
senior years in high school. Her intelligence and an eagerness to participate
in programs to inform and support her future plans opened several doors for her
as she prepared to leave Chester High School and pursue her education.
“Through participating in a range of CYC programs,
I learned that for youth to progress, they must be aware of who they are and
their capacity to impact change and improvement in their community. I also
learned to be fearless and not to limit myself in any endeavor because anything
is attainable regardless of what society, statistics and negative people may
say,” Yates says.
Looking toward the future, the CYC has enlisted
experts at the county, state and national levels to provide best practices for
the development of a sustainable OST system in Chester. These experts will
ensure the network continues to prepare greater numbers of youth to lead
healthy lives and transition to school and careers.
For more information about the Chester Youth
Collaborative, contact Janet Riley-Ford at (610) 497-7422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.