For decades, gun violence has disproportionately affected disadvantaged African-American neighborhoods, and now these same communities are hardest hit by coronavirus.  Urban mayors find themselves confronting two public health crises.  Unemployment and food insecurity are on the increase and safe havens like schools, libraries and rec centers are shuttered.

Holding them in Memory

We hold these names in memory and pray for comfort for their grieving families and friends.


Coronavirus Update

Thanks to a grant from the Foundation for Delaware County, Chester Community Coalition began using, a confidential, HIPAA-compliant teletherapy platform to continue to offer services to participating families.  We are partnering with Chester-Upland School of the Arts and the Boys and Girls Club to help students dealing with trauma.

Open Support Group

Physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation. We recognize the need for connection during this critical time, and desire to create a space for those in the Chester community to meet and feel supported. Our trained staff, Dr. Erika Dawkins (PsyD, MEd, CSP) and Anneka Vanderveen (LSW) are available each week to meet members of the community virtually to process how they feel about what is happening in the community, nationally, and globally.   No pre-registration necessary.  Monday nights 5-7pm.

Dr. Erika Dawkins (PsyD, MEd, CSP)

Anneka Vanderveen (LSW)

Restoring hope

To survive trauma and violence is no easy feat. And at times we can feel like few understand our unique experiences.

That's one reason we created the Survivor and Caregivers groups at Chester Community Coalition. We recognize the need for survivors of violence and those who support them to have a space to talk about their experience. Our experienced, qualified counselors facilitate a supportive space with a research-based curriculum for 10 consecutive weeks.  Tuesday evenings from 630p-730p.  Led by Shakyra Morales, LSW

Give us a call to register at 610-368-0714. Thank you for allowing us to support you!

Shakyra Morales, LSW

Call for Volunteer Therapists and Counselors

The burden of grief in our community is high and our number of therapists is small. When a traumatic event affects schools, we need to be able to quickly respond with competent grief support. That can be difficult to do without sufficient resources. What resources do we need? You.

Are you a therapist or counselor licensed to practice in PA? Are you interested in being a volunteer crisis counselor to respond in Chester and Delaware County for student and staff support? If so, please email

Our community needs us. Please join us if you can.

The impact of Community Violence on
Children's School Performance


In the early 1990’s the US homicide rate peaked at about 10/100,000.  Criminologists talked about superpredators and predicted a bloodbath by 2005.   They were wrong.  By the end of the decade, the murder rate had dropped to about 6/100,000.  Measured nationally, violent crime rates stayed low.


Against this backdrop, Patrick Sharkey studied the impact of community violence on children’s verbal, reading, and language skills.  The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods included a Longitudinal Cohort Study of children in disadvantaged Chicago neighborhoods in the 1990’s, where the children took assessments in their homes.  Sharkey later geo-coded the homes’ locations and compared the locations and assessment dates with homicide data from the Chicago police.  By chance, some children had taken the assessment tests shortly after a violent crime in their neighborhood, while others had been given the assessments just before a nearby homicide, or many months after.


He found that children who took the assessments shortly after a murder near their home performed worse on the verbal assessments (math performance was not affected).  The impact of a recent violent crime near their homes was stronger for African-American children than for Hispanics or for whites.  The most severe impacts were equivalent to two years of school attendance. 

Recent, nearby violence did not make the kids less intelligent.  Rather, students were distracted and less able to concentrate.


Sharkey found violent crime had similar effects on New York City student performance 2004-2010 on the standardized language arts tests that determine promotion to the next grade for students and school rankings.  Black students who took the language arts exam within a week after a violent crime near their home were 3% less likely to pass the exam. 

The impact of violent crime on student performance accumulated – each additional crime near a student’s house led to a larger decline in test scores. 

Your support allows us to offer participant families safe, door to door transportation (via Lyft), and supper, shared with counselors and volunteers. Donations pay for extra therapists’ time in the schools and in community organizations. Donations support community outreach.

Violence is contagious; trauma is its vector. Helping more people understand the effects of trauma – flashbacks, nightmares, trouble sleeping and concentrating, self-medication with drugs and alcohol – will reduce violence.

For those who prefer to donate by check, please make check out to “Urban Affairs Coalition, Chester Community Coalition”, and mail to:

Urban Affairs Coalition 
Attn. Lee Wall
Suite 700
1207 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19107

 703 Central Ave. 
Chester, PA 19013
 (610) 368-0714
Copyright © 2020 Chester Community Coalition, All rights reserved.

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