The Chester Youth Collaborative: Helping Create a Future for Chester Youth
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 Collaborative. A Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from all four groups, provides oversight for the efforts of the Collaborative.
Chester Youth Collaborative Honored as 2013 Afterschool Champion
For more detailed information about the Chester Youth Collaborative, please contact us:
The Chester Youth Collaborative
The Wellness Center
2600 West Ninth Street
Chester, PA 19013
You may also email us at:
The Youth Serving Organizations Group focuses on increasing the quality and number of programs available to Chester youth.
The Advisory Group focuses on identifying partnerships to expand and sustain the work of the CYC.
The 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.
The 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.”
New Program Creation
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 academic opportunities.
A few of these programs include:
- Wells Fargo “Chester College Bound” Program
- Youth-Led “Express Yourself” Forums
- Delaware County Community College “Student Success Program”
- Young Chester Entrepreneurial Program
- Summer employer-paid internships
Capacity-building System for Youth Organizations
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.
Collaborative Efforts: CYC and Office of the Mayor
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 initiatives include:
- The development of a set of Chester Core Standards for Older Youth Programs in Chester.
- The re-establishment of “Chester Junior Mayor and City Council”.
- Efforts to yield a Youth Public Policy Agenda that addresses: quality “out-of-school time” programming, post-secondary options, workforce preparation, and health/wellness.
Positive Youth Story Nefetaria Yates
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.