The College Access Center of Delaware County is closing in June. I’ve always described this place as the high school student’s perpetual college counselor. It is the place parents bring their high school students to prepare for college, select a college, apply for college, find financial aid, take SAT/ACT prep class, get tutored, or just hang out with like minded individuals.

Long time director Julani Ghana and I have gotten to know each other very well outside of the Center activity. He’s been trying to reach me for a couple weeks and we finally connected yesterday where he finally got to tell me the center was closing. I responded with, “What Center?” In my mind, there was no way this place would ever close.

Instead of me going on a rant, please read his well drafted Open Letter to the Community. I promise, this won’t be the last you’ll hear about this tragedy on the blog.

Dear Delaware County & Regional Community Leaders,

It is with much regret that I have to inform you of the recent and unfortunate decision made by the collaboration of local colleges and universities (Widener, Swarthmore, Cheyney, PSU-Brandwine, Neumann,and DCCC) referred to as the Chester Higher Education Council (CHEC).

This is the group that created the College Access Center whose mission is to assist the students and families in the County in the pursuit of their future post secondary dreams by providing FREE academic support, college, and career services, which we faithfully and passionately have done for nearly a decade.

Unfortunately, the Presidents of these institutions have decided to “dissolve” their partnership and will no longer “collectively lead” this college and career effort in our region. This ultimately means that the College Access Center will be closing at the end of THIS upcoming school year (June 30, 2018) and our County will not have a place where parents and students can come for this important assistance. Moreover, it means that our County will not have a collective voice when it comes to regional and national issues involving college and career readiness.

I am sure that you share my disappointment since we know how competitive the world has become and we understand that many of our schools are simply not in position to prepare our students at the highest levels by themselves.

When we think about preparing our region (especially the youth), for a 21st century full of innovation, diversity, and global partnerships, it would seem as if the last thing we would expect is that our local post secondary institutions not take the lead in these types of collaborative efforts. Especially when it seems like institutions in other parts of the country are “doubling down” and seeking to strengthen such partnerships in their respective communities.

See Strengthening Partnership between Universities and Communities by the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development.

But this is where we find ourselves.

While the Center WILL BE OPEN FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE ACADEMIC SCHOOL YEAR, I am not sure if there will be any type of replacement in our vicinity (especially on a college campus) where students and families from all across the County can come together, interact, receive academic support, financial aid, search for scholarships, schedule tutoring, mentoring, and get overall college & career guidance for FREE.

In years prior to the formation of the College Access Cener, we’ve always had to recommend comprehensive college and career readiness activities in Philadelphia or force parents to come out of pocket to get this type of assistance.

In the meantime, I am encouraging you to PLEASE continue to send your child to the Center while we still have time this Spring. We want to help as many of our students get the assistance they need so that they are prepared, confident, and ready to get on their road to success.

Finally, I am also going to ask you to send a prayer to the hearts of the men & women leaders of these local institutions. Contrary to what they may think, we need THEIR “collective” leadership and resiliency now more than ever as our children yearn for clear examples that the adults truly care and are committed to their futures.

It’s hard to believe that these six institutional leaders (not to mention others in the County who could also be invited to participate) can’t “collectively lead” an effort like this and maintain this private and public partnership on behalf of our children and families.

Certainly, the decision by these Presidents can only leave their spirits in doubt and it definitely leaves doubt about who Delco families can depend on for college & career prep leadership in the future.

If you have an interest in lending your personal voice, support, etc, you can email me back as we have not yet decided how to respond to this news. I am open to suggestions, ideas, and assistance.

Attached is the official letter from the CHEC representative for your records. CACDC-CHEC Closing Letter

God bless you all…..thanks for allowing me and my Staff to serve, mentor, assist, develop, inspire, educate, and empower your children.

Julani Ghana
College Access Center of Delaware County
Widener University Campus
400 E. 21st Street
Chester, PA 19013
(610) 499-1390-Office
(610) 499-1394-Fax