Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Philabundance Executive Director, Glenn Bergman, Chester Housing Authority Executive Director Steven Fischer, and other local government and business leaders will join The Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA) to break ground for a new campus at 1200 Highland Avenue, Chester, PA.

The groundbreaking will be held on Thursday, June 2, at 1 p.m. Shuttle bus transportation will be provided from the CCSA’s current location at 200 Commerce Drive, Aston, PA. The groundbreaking program will include brief speeches, ceremonial shoveling, and a choral performance by CCSA scholars.

The new facility, scheduled to open for the 2017-2018 school year, will accommodate 650 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Funding for the project was made possible, in part, by a $1 million anonymous gift from a Swarthmore College alumnus, and additional gifts from HBE Foundation and The McLean Contributionship.

CCSA, supported by The Chester Fund, has raised a total of $3.825 million to date towards the total cost of the project. Additional private contributions and borrowed money will finance the remainder.

Featured guests at the event will include Mayor Kirkland; Philabundance Executive Director, Glenn Bergman, Chester Housing Authority Executive Director, Steven Fischer; CCSA Board Chair, Donald Delson; The Chester Fund Board Chair, James J. McEntee III; CCSA Founder, John Alston; and CCSA Head of School, Akosua Watts. Also featured will be fundraising co-chairs for the project, CCSA Board member Barbara Klock and her husband Salem Shuchman, a member of the Swarthmore College Board of Managers.

“CCSA has been a model of educational excellence in the city since opening in 2012. It will not only continue to enrich the lives of CCSA students, but it will also add to the vitality of Chester’s West End and the entire community,” says Mayor Kirkland.

CCSA is an arts-integrated academically rigorous non-profit public charter school. CCSA currently serves almost 500 students in grades K-9 and will expand to K-12 by 2018. Founded in 2012, CCSA is a high-performing public school serving students from the Chester Upland School District. Admission is non-selective and open to all school-age Chester residents, including those with special needs and English language learners.

CCSA students study dance, drama, music, or theater every day and are provided intensive literacy support, including a volunteer reading program, and extensive after school and summer academic programming. These factors are at the heart of the school’s success. In 2014, CCSA had the third highest year to year improvement among 800 public schools in the Philadelphia region. CCSA has a 96% attendance rate, comparable to suburban school districts, and was named a transformational organization by The Caroline Alexander Buck Foundation.

CCSA is currently located in Aston in a rented facility. CCSA’s relocation into the City of Chester will enable the school to include a full high school program, serving 650 students. In a city with only 7,000 school-aged children, CCSA will educate nearly 10% of this population. CCSA is thriving through exceptional fiscal management under the leadership of Head of School, Akosua Watts, and the implementation of an arts-integrated curriculum that meets the specific needs of the children.

“We are designing a school to meet the needs of our children and to support the delivery of our arts-integrated curriculum. This construction project is a testament to our long term commitment to our students and to the City of Chester,” says Ms. Watts.

School founder Dr. John Alston adds, “We are building a school that will reflect the beauty, ability and potential of our children.”

CCSA’s new $25 million, 3-story, 90,000 square foot building will include a multipurpose cafeteria/auditorium, a regulation size gymnasium, a band room and practice rooms, two visual art studios, a kiln, two science labs with accompanying prep rooms, a media lab, two large dance studios and, in phase two of construction, a 350-seat performing arts space with accompanying costume and set design workshops.

The campus will include athletic fields and a new playground. The grounds also will include trees and other plantings that will beautify and improve the environment along this part of Highland Avenue. “We are thrilled to be able to provide a state-of-the-art school for the children in Chester, and to bring a great new community resource to the residents of the West End,” says Mr. Delson.

CCSA is exploring ways to partner with other Chester organizations to provide programs on site for the benefit of the community. “We’re excited that CCSA is opening in Chester and that it, like Philabundance’s nonprofit supermarket, Fare & Square, is thinking about how to collaborate with others to best serve the community,” says Glenn Bergman, Executive Director of Philabundance. Chester Housing Authority Executive Director Steven Fischer adds, “CCSA’s relocation is a significant addition to the community, bringing another school option to the neighborhood. It helps advance the overall health and vitality of the West End.”

“This project is emblematic of the way that partnerships are essential to transforming and building healthy, sustainable independent communities,” says Reb Speare, a board member of The Chester Fund, as well as Crozer Chester Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Chester. “I’ve been working in Delaware County for many years and with many different organizations. The work that CCSA is doing, especially its commitment to developing partnerships that benefit Chester, is outstanding.”

The building, which is designed with large windows in all rooms to flood spaces with natural light, is designed by KCBA Architects. Engineering Design is by Pennoni as well as Holstein White. The project will be constructed by BSI Construction. The project is being managed by Northstar Owners Representation.

For more information or to rsvp for the ground-breaking, please contact Hillary Sorin at or call 610 605 7422.

See artist sketches of new school: The Chester Charter School for the Arts Breaks Ground on New School Campus in Chester, PA