“As an artist, to me, Arthur is colorful. That’s how I think of it and that’s how it makes me feel. It’s never dark inside, even if it’s raining or gloomy outside. I think that’s because everyone is accepting and no one judges you.”
— Aaliyah Barrett, Chester Arthur Eighth Grader


We are pleased to share FoCA’s 2016-2017 Annual Report with you, our friends and fellow Chester Arthur stakeholders. As this is our first Report as FoCA’s new co-presidents, it is only fitting that we begin by acknowledging and thanking FoCA’s founding president Ivy Olesh for her years of tireless leadership and advocacy on behalf of Chester Arthur. We are proud of what FoCA has accomplished this past year. Through your continued generosity, and at the strategic direction of Principal Newman and school leadership, FoCA’s impact at Arthur has increased in both depth and breadth. This year marked the completion of the Chester Arthur Schoolyard. Arthur students now have a safe, innovative and engaging place to learn and play outdoors. While inside the school, FoCA supported STEM curriculum development and professional development for teachers; technology upgrades in the classrooms, including iPads and Chromebooks; foreign language instruction for grades K-8; innovative programming, extracurriculars and clubs, including art, robotics, civil engineering, makerspace, dance instruction, drama and many others; Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports; and enrichment programming. Having successfully engaged more supporters and funders, FoCA raised over $224,000 last year, and Arthur students directly benefited from your increased support. Student attendance continues to improve, student enrollment continues to increase and students continue to self-report higher satisfaction with their educational experience at Arthur. Indeed, last year, Arthur was honored as the most improved K-8 school in the city of Philadelphia. Looking ahead, FoCA will continue to be a responsible steward of the investments you have made in Arthur and its students, and we will look to you, the Arthur Village, to maintain the momentum. We appreciate all that you do to help achieve our shared mission of securing a first-rate education for our neighborhood’s children.


Shannon Braden and Leigh Botwinik


Principal Kim Newman

It’s been a joy to work with FoCA for the past four years. Our partnership on exciting initiatives like the School Redesign, which has helped us implement an inquiry-driven, project-based approach to teaching and learning; the transformation of our schoolyard, which is now used for instruction as well as play; and the launch of our comprehensive after school programming featuring everything from drama to STEM, has helped create an enriching and well-rounded academic experience for all our students. With the community’s support and the hard work of our incredible staff, Arthur has reached new heights. I am so proud to be Principal of this amazing school and I look forward to another great year!

HSA President Elle Topche

The Home and School Association (HSA) is the direct link between Arthur families and student life at the Chester Arthur school. We work to connect and excite Chester Arthur families, teachers and staff about school activities occurring throughout the year! The HSA is also FoCA's partner within the school. Both organizations regularly interact to assist our amazing teachers and staff in their efforts to ensure a fun and safe educational experience for all Arthur students.

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FoCA Night Out

FoCA Night Out 2017 exceeded all expectations! FoCA raised over $74,000 at the event, more than any prior year. We also sold more tickets, and received more auction item donations and sponsorships, than any prior year. Support for the event comes from community members and local businesses and of course, Arthur staff and students - in fact, Chester Arthur students created and donated 23 inspirational pieces of art to auction off at last year’s event. Proceeds support educational software, phonics workbooks, science and smartboard materials, field trips, teacher grants, Chromebooks, curriculum and professional development, a lunchtime aide and more. Please mark your calendars for March 24th, 2018 at Trinity Center for Urban Life for FNO 2018!

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Adults Only Bowling Night

In Fall 2016, FoCA rented out Pep Bowl in South Philly. We filled the lanes and our tummies with a potluck dinner. Friendly competition led to new friendships!

Family Game Night

In Spring 2017, families gathered at the Arthur Schoolyard for BYOG (bring your own game) Night. FoCA welcomed and celebrated the newly elected HSA at this event. FoCA brought the pizza and everyone else brought their A game.

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Guys Night Out

In Winter 2017, we held our first ever guys-only event. Hosted by the school's Teacher Leader, Mr. Hunter. Arthur parents and future parents gathered at our local favorite watering hole, Sidecar Bar & Grille, for a night of fun and casual camaraderie.

Guy's Night Out 2017.jpg

We were proud to surpass our goal of $15,000 during the 2016-17 annual appeal. Through the generosity of the Neubauer Family Foundation, the first $12,500 was matched and used to support the Bilingual Butterflies program, a Spanish immersion class that Arthur students love.

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In the Fall of 2016, FoCA worked together with Stanton Community Partners to organize the 8th annual SWCC 5k. Between 5k racers, Spooky Sprinters, volunteers, and friends and family who cheered from the fan zone - more than 500 people turned out for the event.



FoCA was honored to receive a renewal grant from the Lenfest Foundation to support Arthur’s middle grades’ after-school programming. The drama club’s production of Annie was a highlight of 2017 and the success of the school’s three STEM clubs continues to be a source of pride for Chester Arthur and its students.

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Annie Cast Photo.jpg
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Capital Projects


Programs, Events, Supplies



Expenses total



Corporate/Organizational Giving


Individual Giving







Revenues Total


Chester Arthur features the newest and most dynamic Schoolyard in the City of Philadelphia. After a remarkable five-year journey from conception to completion the new $1.7 million Schoolyard officially opened in Spring 2017!


The Arthur Schoolyard is more than just a playground - it's an outdoor classroom. Designed to optimize and enhance Arthur students' social, emotional, physical and cognitive development, the Schoolyard engages students in both learning and play. It comprises four labs - Systems, Energy, Motion and Habitat -.which will maximize the teaching and learning potential of the school and its students. While construction of the Schoolyard is now complete, efforts on the part of Arthur teachers to develop project-based curriculum to be applied in the new space are underway and ongoing. Paired with a three-year program of professional and curriculum development, the Schoolyard bridges the gap between theory and practice. The dynamic space will encourage interdisciplinary exploration and a multi-sensory experience while fostering the concept of systems thinking and creating a better school environment, inside and out.


#1 Most improved k-8 school

based on metrics such as academic achievement, student growth and school climate.

34 point increase

on Arthur’s School Progress Report score in just one year, more than any other K-8 school in the Philadelphia School District.

40 community members

active on FoCA’s Board and five committees: Community Events & Outreach, FoCA Night Out, Finance, Fundraising, and Schoolyard & Capital Projects.

783 subscribers

to our listserv, an increase of 150 from last year.

11 Grants

made directly to teachers to provide supplies, professional development opportunities and classroom technology.

6 Teachers

who received professional development and coaching in inquiry-based STEM instruction.

290 Individual Donors

who supported FoCA and the great work at Arthur!



Ivy Olesh


Todd Kaufmann


Steven Zelinger


Michael Burlando

Co-Presidents Elect

Leigh Botwinik & Shannon Braden


Kim Newman


Brad Baer

Deborah Katz

Debra Serota

Matt Olesh

Mina Mishrikey

Rebecca Lacher

FNO Photo for Annual Appeal - Board.jpg

Suggestions or other comments?

We couldn't do any of this without the volunteer and financial support of our great neighborhood. It takes a village and we're lucky to have such a diverse community with many different resources to bring to the table to invest in our school and our neighborhood as a whole. If you've have suggestions or would like to get involved with the Friends of Chester Arthur Elementary, please send us a note below!


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