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Changing Chester

Drexel Neumann Academy's Bold Vision for a Brighter Community.

Situated in the heart of Chester, Pennsylvania, Drexel Neumann Academy (DNA) is a beacon of hope and opportunity. This pre-K through 8th grade school is a transformative force in the lives of its students and the community, fostering academic excellence in a nurturing, multicultural environment.

No Student Is Turned Away

Founded in 2007 through a partnership between the Sisters of St. Francis, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Neumann University, and St. Katharine Drexel Church,  the school aims to empower the children of Chester with a strong academic foundation. Over 90% of the student body is not Catholic, and 85% are from single-parent homes, with an average annual income of $38,750. 100% of students qualify for free breakfast and lunch.

“No family is turned away as long as you live in Chester,” President Alice Sylvester said. “We work with all families to ensure their children are able to attend our school. Our families choose DNA because they are looking for them to be in a safe, rigorous, educational environment where we focus on the Franciscan values, which include being peacemakers and making a difference in our community.”

Drexel Neumann Academy has been providing a Franciscan education to the children of Chester for 17 years where students can learn, grow, and practice their faith.

A Supportive, Holistic Education

At the core of DNA’s success is its dedicated faculty and staff. They create a supportive learning environment through personalized attention and innovative teaching methods where every child feels valued and empowered to succeed.

“We focus on recognizing the giftedness of each child and to holistically help them grow academically and social emotionally,” Sylvester continued.

Walk through the school’s doors, and the energy is palpable.

Classrooms hum with engaged learning. And the impact of DNA extends far beyond the classroom, reaching deep into the surrounding community. Through outreach programs and partnerships with local organizations, DNA students actively participate in initiatives to address social issues and effect positive change.

DNA students receive a holistic approach to education where we strive to meet academic, social and emotional needs beginning in Pre-K through 8th grade.

Alumni of DNA have gone on to excel in high school, with a 100% graduation rate. If students want to continue to a Catholic high school, DNA works to help make that dream possible. Partnerships with the Terryglass Foundation, DNA memorial scholarships, and working with the Archdiocesan Catholic High schools in Delaware County to assist incoming 8th graders, students can continue their secondary education at one of these schools. DNA has partnered with Notre Dame Academy de Namur in Villanova for the last three years to offer the opportunity to attend the all girls college prepatory school to identified 8th-grade girls at DNA. Notre Dame has generously committed to providing academic scholarships each year for girls to attend their high school. For the 2024-2025 school year, seven DNA alumni will attend Notre Dame. This life-changing experience will enable students to chart their course in terms of college and overall experiences.

A Culture of Support

Much of DNA’s success is due to the assistance they receive from the community. One easy way to ensure that students in Chester have access to an education at DNA is through the Pennsylvania State Tax Credit Program.

Businesses and individuals have also made large and small donations to support the school and have assisted by sponsoring programs, such as teaching hockey and launching their new STEM program. The school was awarded grants for tutoring and after-school programs. One of the grants was awarded by Chemours, allowing DNA to add a 3-D Printing Lab and enabling students to become CAD-certified with the ability to program robots and drones.

Our Kindergarten students love gym class and spending time with their classmates.

Drexel Neumann Academy is on a mission to transform Chester, one student at a time. “We change lives for the children in Chester so they can be successful and hopefully stay in Chester. The benefits they receive from DNA allows them to prosper through education and experiences,” said Jason Rodriguez, board member. 

There are many ways to donate or volunteer to help the students continue to thrive. To learn more about Drexel Neumann Academy and how you can help, visit their website or call the school at 610-872-7358.

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