The Gureghian Charitable Foundation (the “Foundation”) is a not-for-profit private organization founded in 2010 by Vahan and Danielle Gureghian. The purpose of the Foundation is to give scholarship grants directly to Chester students who are in financial need of scholarship assistance. Students use these scholarship grants to pay high school tuition expenses so they can attend prestigious high schools in the Greater Philadelphia Metropolitan area. Prior to the establishment of the Foundation, the Gureghians privately donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to individual students from the Chester Upland School District so that they could attend prominent high schools and colleges.
The Gureghians operate CSMI, LLC, an educational management organization that develops and supports charter schools. Founded on the belief that schools can perform better if educators are freed from non-academic responsibilities so they can focus exclusively on teaching, CSMI provides educators with the extensive support, training, curricula and equipment that are consistent with the goal of helping students attain the highest level of educational achievement. CSMI’s flagship school, the Chester Community Charter School (CCCS), a kindergarten to grade 8 school located in Chester, Pennsylvania, has become one of Pennsylvania’s great educational success stories. The school opened in 1998 with an enrollment of 97 students housed in a local Howard Johnson and has grown to serve 3,000 students in newly constructed, state-of-the-art buildings, in only 16 years. The school is a true community success story that has transformed the lives of thousands of students and their families. Unfortunately, the local public school district, the Chester Upland School District, does not provide a viable, high quality high school alternative for CCCS graduates to attend. As a result, the Gureghian Charitable Foundation has been providing scholarship assistance to qualifying Chester Community Charter School eighth grade graduates so that they can attend prestigious high schools of their choice.
Since 2010 more than 175 students have been selected as Gureghian Foundation Scholarship Recipients. Funded primarily by the Gureghians, these scholarships have totaled more than $3.5 million dollars. Currently, the Foundation has strong working relationships with over 20 private and parochial schools where their scholars attend. This network of schools grows substantially every year based on the increasing numbers of students who are motivated and prepared to enroll in rigorous academic institutions with the Foundation’s support.
In cooperation with Comcast's Internet Essentials program, the Foundation has also committed to contributing home computers and home internet service to families in Camden, New Jersey and Chester, Pennsylvania. Internet Essentials is a program through which Comcast provides low-income families with a computer for approximately $150 and broadband internet service for $9.95 per month. The Foundation subsidizes the program by paying for the entire cost of the computer and one year of broadband service for the families of students at Camden Community Charter School, another CSMI supported school, as well as at Chester Community Charter School.
The success of the Chester Community Charter School is inspiring for many reasons, but most notable is the history of the City of Chester and the Chester Upland School District as the context that makes the success of CCCS so remarkable. The City of Chester was once a vibrant, middle-class community but it declined significantly when big manufacturing plants left taking with them thousands of jobs; and Chester became a community besieged by poverty, violent crime, drug use, and declines in population, home values and median income. The effect on the education system was devastating. The Chester Upland School District has perennially been ranked at the very bottom of approximately 500 school districts in Pennsylvania; and approximately half of all eighth grade students were not graduating from high school.
It is our hope that you will support the Gureghian Charitable Foundation in its mission to provide scholarship opportunities to young scholars so that more and more deserving students can continue their educational journey in a rigorous and robust educational environment. Empowering students to choose a prestigious high school, rather than having no choice other than to attend the Chester High School, is the primary focus of this charity. Helping young scholars attain their education goals and become productive members of society are the goals that the Foundation has established, and with your help, we believe we can assist a greater number of students so that more and more lives can be transformed.