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“Community support allows teachers to plan and execute an enriching and meaningful curriculum at Arthur, it really does. And that’s huge.”
— Susan Meyers, Arthur Second Grade Teacher


What a year it has been! This time last year, we were preparing to begin our journey as FoCA co-presidents. We would like to thank each and every member of FoCA’s Board for their patience and support as we found our way. This transition marked the beginning of a new phase for FoCA, acknowledging that we are no longer a fledgling start-up but a well established institution in our community. We successfully held our first open call for new Board Members, adding four talented, dedicated members of the community to our team this June. Our Board now includes institutional knowledge and deep commitment from long-time Board members coupled with new energy and perspective. What more could we ask for?!

What many people don’t know is that FoCA also has an extensive Committee structure, where hard-working volunteers plan events, write grants, weed gardens and more. We are so grateful to our Committees for contributing time and talent in support of FoCA’s mission. Thank you!

We would also like to extend a hearty congratulations to outgoing Arthur Principal Kim Newman. We count ourselves lucky to have had such a willing partner at Arthur these past five years. You worked so hard, usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. And yet you routinely attended FoCA Board meetings and events, responded to endless text messages and phone calls, and went out of your way to welcome not just FoCA but the entire community into your building. Fortunately, you not only led the school well, you helped prepare it for the future by mentoring Arthur Interim Principal Vic Hunter and nominating him to the FoCA Board a year ago. There couldn’t be a smoother transition and we can add that to your long list of accomplishments!

Of course, without the passionate commitment of our supporters, none of this is possible. From helping us raise $205,000 that provide for amazing programs like Bilingual Butterflies, Lego Robotics, and Dancing Classrooms, to attending events that help build community and connections among neighbors, the Arthur village continues to shine. FoCA’s vision is that Chester Arthur serves as an anchor and point of pride for the community. We are humbled by your support in this effort and look forward to another year of amazing results!


Shannon Braden and Leigh Botwinik

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Interim Principal
Vic Hunter

It is my distinct pleasure to partner with FoCA and the Chester Arthur community as Arthur’s Interim Principal for the 2018-2019 academic year. At this time of transition, I thank Principal Newman for her unfailing commitment to Chester Arthur and am eager to build on the momentum gained under her leadership. I first decided to pursue a degree in education when visiting my son’s classroom at Arthur 20 years ago and eagerly joined Arthur’s staff 11 years ago - first as a teacher and then as Arthur’s Teacher Leader. Education at Arthur is my passion, and I am committed to further developing the enriching and well-rounded academic and extracurricular experience Arthur offers all its students. Thanks to your continued support, and the dedication and hard work of Arthur’s incredible teachers, staff and students, I am confident that Arthur will continue to trend up this year and I am grateful for the opportunity to be at the helm!

HSA President
Elle Topche

The Home and School Association (HSA) is the direct link between Arthur families and student life at Chester Arthur. 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 in the school. Both organizations regularly interact to assist Arthur’s 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 2018 was a night to remember! With over 260 people in attendance, FoCA raised more than $95,000, with a net of more than $84,500, to support academic and extracurricular programming at Chester Arthur. During the live appeal alone, FoCA raised more than $12,000 for music education at Arthur. The evening was a resounding success due to the generosity of community members, and the support of businesses and individuals through 52 sponsorships and the donation of 169 auction items. Funds raised at FoCA Night Out 2018 will not just maintain but will accelerate the progress made to date at Arthur as FoCA continues to ensure that Arthur students have access to the first-rate education they deserve. So mark your calendars for FNO 2019, which will take place at Trinity Center for Urban Life on March 16, 2019!   

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This year, we focused on building our FoCA community by creating new and unique social experiences for Arthur families and community members.

Arthur Back to School Block Party

In September 2017, FoCA partnered with the Chester Arthur HSA to host Arthur’s first annual Back to School Block Party. The event took place on the Arthur Schoolyard and over the course of the afternoon nearly 300 Arthur family and community members stopped by to say hello and enjoy good eats, cool treats, music and activities by Playworks. We even had a basketball tournament! All in all, it was a wonderful day of connection and community for Arthur families that helped to kick off the new school year!


Arthur Schoolyard Cleanup & Planting Days

Now that Arthur’s new Schoolyard is complete, FoCA has been working diligently to maintain the space, including its plantings. To that end, we hosted a Spring Cleanup & Planting Day, as well as a Fall Cleanup Day, in May and then September of 2017. We had more than 40 volunteers join us for each event to pick up trash, weed, plant new plants and generally spruce up the space! The Schoolyard is a wonderful space to be enjoyed by Arthur students, families and the larger community and we look forward to keeping it clean and green with the help of the Arthur Village for years to come!

FoCA Baby Wordplay Event

There are many families with young children living in our neighborhood so FoCA partnered with local business Baby Wordplay to host an event geared towards our younger friends! Dozens of children and their families joined us in the Grays Ferry Triangle for an afternoon of books, music and learning made fun by the one and only Miss Pam! Because if you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet…STOMP STOMP!

As 2017 wound down to a close, our supporters were answering our call to provide sustaining support. We are thrilled to have met our target in raising $20,000 during this year’s annual appeal. These funds support teacher grants and professional development, student programming, and enable FoCA to continue to grow.



In the Fall of 2017, FoCA worked together with Stanton Community Partners to organize the 9th 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.



We would like to acknowledge the Lenfest Foundation for their support of Arthur’s middle years after-school programming, Bloktoberfest for their support of FoCA’s community events, and the Southwest Center City 5k and Philadelphia Activities Fund for their support of healthy, active programming like yoga and Dancing Classrooms.

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Capital Projects


Arthur Programs/Events/Teacher
Supplies & Support



Expenses total



Organizational Giving/Other


Individual Giving







Revenues Total


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Thanks to your generous support, FoCA has made meaningful contributions across Arthur’s varied yet equally significant funding priorities:

  • Arts Programming: $21,375

  • STEM Programming: $9,291

  • Foreign Language Instruction: $15,000

  • Fitness and Play: $36,200

  • Technology, Curriculum & Supplies: $37,575

  • Teacher Support and Professional Development: $28,669

Chester Arthur’s Schoolyard Inspires Inquiry Driven, Project-Based Learning!

Arthur’s Schoolyard was designed with four labs – Systems, Energy, Motion and Habitat – each of which helps 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 curriculum to be applied in the new space are underway and ongoing. Arthur teachers are currently working with The College of New Jersey - a project that FoCA pays for through its William Penn Foundation grant - to develop project-based, STEM curriculum that utilizes the many inquiry-driven components of the Schoolyard. For example, Arthur students will not only learn math in class, but their teachers can use the same basketball court where students engage in gross-motor play to demonstrate the x and y axes. Or a teacher can augment a conversation in class about the earth's rotation and changing seasons with an opportunity for students to use the sundial. In this way, the Schoolyard will not only reinforce classroom learning, it will inspire it.

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Arthur second grade teacher Susan Meyers has been a pioneer in using the Schoolyard to enhance classroom curriculum. One of the first teachers to work with TCNJ three years ago, Ms. Meyers describes the experience as “awesome” and shared that she has built a deeper understanding of the engineering design process through her work with TCNJ. Partnering with TCNJ, Ms. Meyers conducted a curricular unit on filtering water. The students implemented the engineering design process to design their own water filter. Once their design was complete, students built their water filters from supplies provided by TCNJ and then tested those filters in class. After testing, the students were encouraged to improve on their designs and re-build and re-test their filters. “The room was a mess for a couple days,” said Ms. Meyers, “but it was worth it.” After completing the in-class portion of this curricular unit, Ms. Meyers brought her classroom to the Schoolyard to learn about stormwater runoff and how the Schoolyard’s rain garden is a permeable surface that allows water to percolate into the soil, which – like the water filters the students designed in class – filters out pollutants and ultimately recharges the water table. The students walked away from this learning experience with an appreciation for the necessity of plants, green spaces and pervious surfaces. We look forward to increased use of the Schoolyard by Arthur teachers in the years to come!  

11 point increase

on Arthur’s math proficiency PSSA score in just one year!

45 community members

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

Over 1500 subscribers

to our listserv, nearly double last year’s number!

18 Events

hosted by FoCA in the 2017-18 academic year!

16 Teachers

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

255 Individual Donors

who supported FoCA and the great work at Arthur!


Leigh Botwinik &
Shannon Braden


Todd Kaufmann


Steven Zelinger


Michael Burlando


Kim Newman*


Brad Baer

Vic Hunter

Deborah Katz

Debra Serota

Matt Olesh*

Mina Mishrikey*

Rebecca Lacher

*Special thanks to Matt and Mina for your service. From drafting bylaws, to introducing us to Connor Barwin, to teaching us the importance of tri-blend swag, your contributions to the Board will not be forgotten. And to Kim, our five-time MVP and fearless leader: thank you for believing in FoCA, the students at Arthur, and the neighborhood.


Suggestions or 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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