Chester County Futures is a poverty-prevention charity which focuses on mentorships and academic support for low-income students in the Chester County area.

It works with students in Coatesville Area School District, Kennett Consolidated School District, Oxford Area School District, Phoenixville Area School District, and West Chester Area School District. In 2014-2015, the charity helped 210 high school students, 87 middle school students, and 159 post-secondary students.

Steve Brown, the Community Partnerships Manager of Chester County Futures, said, “Our students are bright, motivated learners who want to go to college, but do not have the necessary resources or knowledge of the system to get there on their own. When they sign up for our program, we make a commitment to help them achieve their goal of attaining higher education.”

Brown encourages West Chester University students to get involved with Chester County Futures, as WCU has been an official college partner with the charity for several years.

WCU students have hosted campus tours and have been interns and active volunteers. Many students who have gone through the Chester County Futures program have gone on to attend WCU as well.

Brown said, “WCU students should get involved because our program is providing access and opportunity to deserving students who need extra support.”

He reminded students of how difficult applying for college was and encouraged WCU college students who have gone through the process to help those students in high school and middle school now.

To become an official one-to-one mentor with Chester County Futures, there is a minimum of a one-year commitment.

Volunteers can also work with Chester County Futures for different projects, ranging from just a few hours to a much longer commitment.

The one-to-one mentorship program is just one part of Chester County Futures. Volunteers can also act as classroom presenters in local schools.

Classroom presenters choose their topics and speak to students during an after-school enrichment session. Topics can include majors, clubs, the college application process, a Q&A session about life as a college student, and more.

To become a mentor or classroom presenter with Chester County Futures, one must contact Steve Brown at 610-608-0628 or sbrown@ccfutures.org.

Typically, mentors are people who have already completed a bachelor’s degree. Mentors must complete an application, background checks, and training. Then, they are matched with a student. Classroom presenters work with Brown to determine a theme and topic for the presentation.

Chester County Futures is a large organization and typically has between 150 and 200 volunteers in a year. In 2015, approximately 10 West Chester University students worked as volunteers for Chester County Futures, as classroom presenters and helpers at a middle school enrichment camp that the charity ran.

Brown says the highest areas of need right now are one-to-one mentors and special event helpers for the annual College and Career Expo in August 2016 and the 20th Anniversary Celebration in October 2016. He encourages interested volunteers to contact him.

To learn more about Chester County Futures, visit its website at http://www.ccfutures.org/index.html.

Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.

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