Chester Education Foundation

The Arts are Alive and Thrive in Chester

Recently, as I drove through overtown Chester toward the CEF office I stopped at the light at the newsstand on Avenue of the States. Waiting for the light, I was enjoying the music on my car radio, humming along and bobbing my head to the music. Across the street was a young driver, arms waving, singing and really rocking out to her music. On the opposite corner, an elderly man with gigantic headphones was grooving - head swaying and fingers snapping. The three of us, in our own little worlds, but enjoying the universal pleasure of music made me smile!

The Avenue of the States in Chester has a rich heritage of music, art and poetry that continues today with storefronts displaying original art; popup galleries; sophisticated boutiques and, when it’s nice weather, music from a street musician or two.

In February, the Chester Education Foundation was a co-sponsor of the Performing Arts Showcase at the STEM Academy. The audience of friends, family, staff and faculty enjoyed the talents of students who took the stage to sing, dance, recite and inspire. The Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard posted the colors as a ceremonial opening to the showcase. Guest performers included Master of Ceremonies, Amillion the Poet; Reverend John G. Moore, Sr. reciting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech; and the Kuumba African Dance Ensemble.

Dr. Jason Hamer, Principal, welcomed everyone to the STEM Academy,

It is our pleasure to welcome you to tonight’s event. It is an honor to showcase the talents of our STEM students while honoring their hard work, dedication, and academic achievements.

The student performers received standing ovations from their classmates! Performers were: Dai’Tiana Finesse, Danielle P. Jeter, The Fantastic Four, Dakota Richards, Taaliyah Allen, Giuliana Simms, Khiron Grasty, Khaleelah Griffin, Senae Davis, Tayshaun Bland, Omillio Johnson, Zhyonah Aikens, Imani Croston and Hassan Vega.

A Support System

Like my fellow travelers on the Avenue of the Arts, the audience of more than 200 expressed their delight by singing along, finger snaps and applause for another great evening of arts and culture in Chester.

By Cheryl Cunningham, Executive Director of Chester Education Foundation

"LIGHTS ON" in Chester

The STEM Academy in Chester is “Lights On” with afterschool activities facilitated by the Chester Education Foundation (CEF).

For the next two months, juniors and seniors from three high schools in Chester, PA are preparing for success on SATs and ACTs. Their scores on these tests will determine the important next stage of their lives - where they will go to college.

Chester Education Foundation, Swarthmore College, and the Let’s Get Ready (LGR) organization are partnering with the Chester Upland School District and the Chester Charter School for the Arts to prepare students for Spring 2019 SAT tests. Twice per week for ten weeks, 10 college students trained by LGR from Widener University, Swarthmore College and Penn State Brandywine meet at the STEM Academy to coach students in math, language arts and test-taking strategies. The LGR coaches, along with guest speakers, also provide workshops on the college application process, financial aid and student success. Brett Alvare, a professor from Widener University is teaching an ACT prep course.

Let’s Get Ready is very excited to be working with the Chester Education Foundation! Although we’ve been in Pennsylvania for a number of years, we’ve just begun to serve the students of Chester. It’s an honor to provide students with an opportunity to expand their college knowledge and prepare for an important test. We look forward to growing this partnership and continuing to build relationships within the Chester community!

-Neha Surender, College Access Manager at Let’s Get Ready

Elsewhere at the STEM Academy, International Hip-Hop Artist, Amillion the Poet is teaching students in the afterschool program how to express themselves through spoken word, rap and soul.  Amillion, who performed at the 2018 Firefly Festival alongside headlining rappers Eminem and Kendrick Lamar has been working with the Chester Education Foundation for about six years, weaving inspirational messages into his lessons on composing, performance and entrepreneurship.

When asked about his experience working with Chester youth, Amillion said,

It’s been four years since I first performed as the Key Note Speaker for the Chester Summer school graduation. Since then it’s been a pleasure to be entrenched in both STEM Academy and Chester High after school programs. Poetry In Motion workshops have allowed these talented youth a safe haven to express themselves through music, poetry and dance. They say they are inspired by seeing me live my dreams performing all over the world and still make time for them every Thursday. Little do they know they inspire me as well!

In addition to the “Let’s Get Ready” program and Amillion’s “Poetry in Motion” class, STEM Academy afterschool students can choose from an array of enrichment activities provided by CEF and partners including Martial Arts, Bio-Medical Engineering, Debate Team, Vocal/Music Lessons, Ballroom/Hip-Hop/Dance, Physical Fitness, and workshops from the Academy of Natural Science.               

For more information on Chester Education Foundation’s programming please call 610-364-1212, or email   To connect with Amillion, follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and SoundCloud: @AmillionThePoet  To learn more about “Let’s Get Ready” visit their website:

For more information on Chester Education Foundation’s programming please call 610-364-1212, or email

To connect with Amillion, follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and SoundCloud: @AmillionThePoet

To learn more about “Let’s Get Ready” visit their website:

Why Visual Storytelling Is Important For Our Youth

Over the course of two months a group of 15 students learned the importance of embracing your story and understanding the story of peers. We explored these stories through basic photography, with an emphasis on the meaning behind an image versus the image itself.

Storytelling is universal to all forms of art, at its core stories told through visual arts specifically allows the viewer to peer into the artist’s mind in a way that language cannot always do. This feeling of being connected to a stranger was an important theme of our class.


Why is it important?

“Researchers have found a strong correlation between the time teens began using smartphones a decade ago and a sharp rise in reports of serious mental health issues”

Beware of Social Media

Using social media platforms as a professional versus a consumer was another theme of our class. It is important to inform our youth of multiple industries. Digital marketing in particular has grown exponentially in recent years. This dependency on social media is a double edged sword, while the instructor educated the class on how to utilize the advantages of social media, a very clear message on the side-effects of social media was also delivered.

Course Description

This 8-week program taught students how to utilize basic photography to tell authentic stories and how to leverage storytelling as a business via social media platforms.


  1. Fundamental usage of Instagram and iPhone photography

  2. First-steps on how to leverage visual storytelling through business

  3. Individuals will gain Creative Confidence to utilize in various mediums

  4. Individuals who complete this course will leave with a new community of creatives, creating a safe-place to bounce ideas off of each other