Cynthia Jetter '74, director of community partnerships at Swarthmore's Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, is the driving force behind the creation of a new center in Chester, Pa., that will provide free resources for students of all ages who are interested in pursuing their college education. Today, she joined the heads of several area colleges and universities at the College Access Center's grand opening.
"This is a personal thing for me," says Jetter, who grew up in Chester and attended Swarthmore after becoming one of the first participants in the College's Upward Bound program. "We can be a facilitator and warehouse for information. The diversity of resources we can bring is unique."
The Center, the first initiative of the Chester Higher Education Council, provides everything from college and career awareness and study skills development to tutoring, mentoring, and assisting high school seniors and their parents with the college financial aid process. It is anticipated that it will serve 1,000 youths and adults in its first year through school-based programs, community workshops held at the center, and at neighborhood sites.
The Council is a nonprofit organization formed by the presidents of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Delaware County Community College, Neumann College, Penn State Brandywine, and Widener University, as well as Swarthmore. In addition, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania will provide $100,000 in funding for the Center's first year of operation.
"The generosity of the schools is overwhelming," adds Jetter, who will devote 25 percent of her time to overseeing the Center. "We've all been doing this work separately for years. This brings everything together in one place."
In 2006, Jetter received the Lewis Brown Freedom Award from the Chester chapter of the NAACP for her longtime service and leadership in the Chester community. At the time, she noted, "It was the support and encouragement of Upward Bound and the Swarthmore students involved in the program that sparked my commitment to education, both for myself as a young person and for the many others growing up today in circumstances similar to mine." Her committment continues unabated.