Keystones to Opportunity

Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) recently received a “Keystones to Opportunity” (KtO) for striving readers grant. CCCS is one of 58 educational agencies in Pennsylvania chosen to participate in the US government’s broad approach to improving literacy outcomes for children from birth to grade 12.

Bryn Clovis Foundation

Each year between 2006 and 2013, Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) received a grant to help fund costs for students to attend enriching summer camps. Prior to summer 2012, the funds were used to pay for students’ tuition to the ESF Dream Camp program in Philadelphia. However, beginning in 2012 the funds were used to pay for the costs of sending students to the CCCS summer camp programs. Camp programs develop young leaders and encourage youth to embrace challenges, seize opportunities, overcome obstacles, and achieve their dreams.

Camp experiences make the summer memorable for children by providing an enthusiastic staff of experienced teachers and college students, a safe / secure recreational facility and enriching programming that focuses on development of the whole child, academically, athletically and emotionally. Students who participate in summer camps have shown improved academic performance, attendance and behavior. Camp programs help students improve their performance in math and reading, their critical thinking and decision-making skills, their conflict resolution behaviors, and their leadership potential. They have learned to make better choices, to think about their futures and to develop plans to achieve their goals.

Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Enrichment Program

In fall 2009, CCCS was awarded the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Program grant, a 5-year research grant. The school was one of only eight educational institutions, nationwide, selected to receive this prestigious award for this grant period.

The Javits grant supported implementation of the proven Renzulli School-wide Enrichment Model for the school’s most advanced students and that CCCS was hoping to expand to include all students; however the funding was cut from the federal budget after only two years (2009-2011) of the 5-year design and the CCCS was unable to expand the program school wide as originally planned.

However, in just two years it was evident that infusion of technology and enriching digital resources through the Javits grant program had positive effects on achievement in these areas: students’ ability to express ideas orally, in writing, and in presentations; researching, listening and thinking critically and creatively. Students were engaged and increased their ability to work independently and collaboratively. Also, the digital resources demonstrated that if children from low income schools have equitable access to digital and print resources they can achieve on a par with students from middle class districts.

Reading First

CCCS was awarded a 3-year Reading First grant in 2004 and a 3-year renewal in 2007. The Reading First program focused on applying scientifically-based reading research—and the proven instructional and assessment tools consistent with this research—to ensure that all children are proficient in reading by the end of third grade.

The CCCS Reading First Program dramatically increased the percentage of students reading at or above the proficient level by: implementing “Reading Mastery” curriculum as a coherent, scientifically based core reading program for grades K to 3; providing supplemental reading instruction through the Children's Literacy Initiative components: Read Aloud, Special Focus Book Collections, and Writing Seminars; offering Fast ForWord as an intervention for students who needed intensive phonemic awareness instruction to build fluency, vocabulary and comprehension; implementing a comprehensive system to assess students’ phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension for purposes of screening, progress monitoring, diagnosis, and outcomes evaluation; supplying support material for each instructional program; and conducting Professional Development to build teacher mastery in the aforementioned principals.

Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) and Title I School Improvement

CCCS received funds through five competitive EETT grant competitions to enhance instruction through greater use of educational technology. The Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) EETT program is designed to improve students’ academic achievement through use of technology and ensure that all students are technologically literate upon graduating the 8th grade. The program also aims at increasing teacher capacity to effectively integrate research-based technology resources and systems into curricula and instruction.

To attain these goals, the EETT program supported the following research-based strategies: a web-based differentiated literacy instruction program; acquisition of SmartBoards, projectors and laptop computers for use in classrooms; professional development in use of educational technology hardware and software; and development of the position of technology integration specialist to help teachers and students use technology to support instruction and learning.

CCCS also used Title I School Improvement grants to fund the EETT initiatives described above.

American Recovery And Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – Title I Supplemental Funds

In spring 2009, CCCS was awarded a grant through ARRA to further enrich its Title I programming during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. These funds were used to expand the school’s basic, special and technology education integration programs. Through use of these funds, CCCS was able to hire 27 full-time professional tutors, an additional kindergarten teacher and one kindergarten teaching assistant.

Additionally, the grant has funded professional development relating to technology integration in the curriculum and the purchase of the following equipment and supplies: science kits; classroom libraries; listening centers; and interactive whiteboards for 23 classrooms. 

Learn and Serve

In 2010 and 2011 CCCS was awarded two Learn and Serve grants to support sixth grader’s participation in Holocaust-research service learning projects and presentations of their products to the community at the J. Lewis Crozer Library. The projects’ outcomes included improvement in students’ language arts skills (reading comprehension, research, and poetry writing and understanding); and an appreciation of lessons from history in relation to their own lives, including the need for appreciation of others from diverse backgrounds.

In 2011 CCCS was awarded a third Learn and Serve grant to support sixth grader’s participation in its “Chester Going Green” project. The purpose of the project was for students to take action to raise community awareness of the need and methods for recycling in their communities

Science – It’s Elementary

From 2007-2010, Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) took part in the state’s Science: It’s Elementary Program (SIE) and received professional development and instructional materials to enhance science teaching and learning. SIE is a PA standards-based science curriculum with inquiry-based, instructional methods, proven to meet the needs of urban students from low-income families and students with IEPs. The program supported CCCS policies and practices of: implementing research-based instructional methods; providing on-going professional development through a team-based, train-the-trainer approach; and emphasizing professional development in school-wide, proven instructional practices. SIE is also an exceptionally good fit within the CCCS curriculum because of its inquiry-based, instructional methods, proven to meet the needs of urban students from low-income families and students with IEPs. Research has shown that students with these demographics perform much better in school when taught using an inquiry-based approach.

Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP)

In fall 2006, CCCS received a 3-year Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant to expand and enhance its physical education programs. CCCS named its program “Fitness For All and All For Fitness.” CCCS used the grant funds to provide equipment and support to enable students to participate actively in physical education activities; and to support staff and teachers through professional development activities.

The vision of the Fitness for All and All for Fitness initiative is to motivate all students in achieving a greater level of physical fitness and promote the improvement of academic achievement and effective wellbeing, as it correlates to physical health.

Elementary School Counseling Program

Since 2004, CCCS has received two, three-year federal grants to fund the school’s counseling programs. Through these grants CCCS established a comprehensive counseling protocol and teachers learned techniques to de-escalate student conflict and reduce class disruptions.

Other Grants

CCCS has received several other grants that have helped to develop programs relating to student behavior. These include:

  • Special Education School Based Behavioral Health grant supported professional development and materials to initiate and support a Positive Behavioral Support Program to improve school climate and student social and academic outcomes

  • Safe Schools Initiative competitive grants and Safe & Drug-Free Schools & Communities grants supported Positive Approaches Model professional development and training for our SAP Teams

  • HIV/STD/Pregnancy Prevention grant that funded consultants and instructional materials to educate adolescents and teens regarding the dangers of unprotected sex.