PHILADELPHIA - PECO and the Exelon Foundation have announced a grant of $1 million to Widener University to expand educational opportunities for students at the Widener Partnership Charter School in Chester.
The grant -- $750,000 from PECO and $250,000 from the Exelon Foundation -- will help the school improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education resources as the school expands to serve seventh and eighth graders over the next two years. The grant also will fund new programs to encourage parental involvement and a feasibility study of school expansion options.
"Widener Partnership Charter School has created a very special learning environment for its students in the city of Chester," said Denis P. O'Brien, senior executive vice president of PECO's parent company Exelon, CEO of Exelon Utilities, and board member of the Exelon Foundation. "We are proud to join forces with Widener, and the residents of Chester, to invest in the future of our young people and help them acquire the skills they will need to be successful members of a global workforce."
The Widener Partnership Charter School was launched in 2006 as a joint venture of Widener University and a coalition of community residents. In six years, the school has become a model for university-sponsored charter schools. It is unique in its emphasis on holistic education, partnering with parents and utilizing university faculty, students and resources to enrich the educational experience.
The STEM program includes afterschool and Saturday supplemental instruction to educate and build on that interest throughout the student's middle school education. Coupled with a community education program designed to increase parent/caregiver involvement in their children's learning, the grant helps provide the capacity to support student academic success. The funding supports the expansion of the existing Widener-run parent education program to include STEM-related workshops. PECO employees also will participate in an after-school mentoring program.
"We are very grateful for the investment that PECO and the Exelon Foundation have made in the future of the students in the Widener Partnership Charter School," said Widener University President James T. Harris III. "These students already believe that they can be world changers, and with the knowledge and resources of such a strong corporate partner like PECO, their dreams and aspirations of becoming scientists, doctors, engineers and community leaders are that much closer to reality."
With a principal focus on math, science and environmental education, PECO supports programs which encourage students from all backgrounds to stay in school, develop their talents and continue their education beyond high school. Since 1969, PECO has sponsored the Philadelphia Academies' Academy of Applied Electrical Science. As part of its mission, the Exelon Foundation supports innovative math and science education programs in the communities the Exelon family of companies serves. In February 2012, the foundation announced a $500,000 contribution to help launch a STEM partnership school at Aurora University that will serve students in the third through eighth grades.
In 2011, PECO invested $1 million in a similar collaboration with Drexel University to enhance STEM resources at schools in the Mantua/Powelton Village communities.