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One-Stop Access to Higher Education


At a building owned by Widener University, a new college-access center will provide Delaware County, Pa., residents with counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and other resources.

Joyful anticipation filled the air as representatives from six Delaware County colleges and universities and the community gathered on Jan. 27 to launch the College Access Center (CAC) of Delaware County—a one-stop facility in Chester, Pa. According to Cynthia Jetter ‘74, director of community partnerships and planning for Swarthmore’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and the driving force behind the Center—its mission is to address the educational needs of county residents.

The center, which is supported by volunteers from the founding institutions and the community, opened its doors for business on Feb. 2 in a building owned by Widener University. It provides free services to students beginning in sixth grade and continuing through their senior year of high school and to adults wishing to pursue or complete a college degree. County residents have access to a computer lab and resource room for researching higher education opportunities, and guidance is available for completing online applications and financial aid forms.

The center is the first initiative of the Chester Higher Education Council (CHEC), a new nonprofit organization formed by the presidents of Cheyney University, Delaware County Community College, Neumann College, Penn State–Brandywine, Widener University, and Swarthmore. The first year of operation is bolstered by a $100,000 grant from the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Jetter spoke with emotion to the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting: “I bear witness to the fact that access to information gives access to opportunity. That is why I want these children to feel that they’re entitled to a better education.”


Cynthia Jetter ’74, a longtime community activist worked to open the center in February.

According to President Alfred H. Bloom, who serves as CHEC treasurer, the Council anticipates that the center will serve 1,000 youth and adults in its first year through school-based programs, community workshops held at the center, and at neighborhood sites. “The center will form partnerships with the 15 school districts in Delaware County,” Bloom says.

Jetter expects College staff, faculty, and students to serve as tutors, mentors, and educational program leaders. Currently, she has commitments from the Writing Associates Program to conduct writing workshops, the National Society of Black Engineers to hold SAT prep sessions, multilingual Swarthmore students to work with young students for whom English is not their first language, and the Financial Aid Office to assist with workshops on scholarships and grants.

“This is a great day,” said Widener President James Harris III, CHEC chairperson, “because what is going to happen in this house over the next few decades is a dream come true. The universities coordinated their efforts through the Chester Higher Education Council, but it was Cynthia Jetter—the heart and soul of this project—who charged forward and made the access center possible.”

—Susan Cousins Breen

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