Making a New Home for our Scholars: ABC Strath Haven Launches its Capital Campaign, Moving Forward Together

By ABC Strath Haven Vice President and Development Chair Dana Marcus

For approximately 40 years, A Better Chance Strath Haven has served over 100 graduates. We are proud of our alumni who have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from selective colleges and universities such as Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore College, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Howard University, Stanford, Yale, Oberlin College, and many others. Over 96% of our graduates attend college while nationally, only 46% of low income students of color do.

This past year has been a busy one for all of us at A Better Chance Strath Haven as we prepare to merge our program into one coeducational house on Harvard Avenue. For years, the burden of maintaining two houses has meant that the funding we spend on our scholars has been diverted to the funding necessary to maintain two large old houses, pay two sets of utility bills, and staff two separate programs. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, we will educate and support eight scholars, four male and four female, in one house at 731 Harvard Avenue owned by the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. We have the unanimous support of the church session, and they are committed to maintaining a strong partnership with us, as well as the primary responsibility for maintaining the exterior of the house.

Renovations and upgrades to the interior of the house have been underway since last summer, as we prepare for the consolidation. Two separate suites have been created on the Second Floor – one for boys, which includes a new room for a male resident tutor, and one for girls, which also includes a new room for a female resident tutor. A new girls’ bathroom was constructed last summer, and during the summer of 2012, a renovation of the boys’ bathroom was completed. Additional upgrades to the house include:

  • A sprinkler system throughout all four floor levels
  • Additional fire safety items, such as new fire doors, and window fire egress capability on the Second and Third floors 
  • Kitchen expansion and renovation
  • Additional renovations in the summer of 2014 to the First Floor of the house will include exterior wall insulation, floor sanding, room painting, and new lighting to improve the overall comfort and appearance of the home
  • Installation of a thru-wall air conditioner in the Third Floor Resident Directors’ apartment

The Swarthmore Presbyterian Church has committed to continue to cover the exterior renovation costs, including a new roof (in the Spring of 2014) and the recent replacement of the deteriorated cedar shingles on the West Elevation. In 2012, the church partnered with ABC Strath Haven to rebuild the structurally compromised front porch.

Total costs for the ongoing interior renovations are estimated to be approximately $225,000. ABC Strath Haven is proud to launch its capital campaign, Moving Forward Together, in support of this important initiative. We have the early and generous support of many in our community, including 100% of our board who have contributed or pledged $25,000 already. We are almost half way to our goal and are thrilled to announce the amazing support of The Sunshine Lady Foundation who has provided ABC Strath Haven with funds for a $100,000 matching challenge. If we raise $100,000, The Sunshine Lady Foundation will give us an additional $100,000! This extraordinary challenge gives donors the opportunity to leverage their gift and make a significant impact on the lives of our scholars. A gift of $500 becomes $1,000. A gift of $10,000 becomes $20,000! Look for details about Moving Forward Together, in the coming months.

For more information, contact Dana Marcus at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About ABC Strath Haven

The mission of A Better Chance Strath Haven is to provide a supportive, nurturing environment for promising, motivated students of color from underserved communities to help them develop personally and academically as they prepare for college.  We strive to build confidence and independence in our scholars so they can actively and meaningfully contribute to their high school and college, their local communities and society.  A Better Chance Strath Haven is a local chapter of the national A Better Chance Program.

A Better Chance Strath Haven, Inc. is a non-profit charitable corporation tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3). A copy of the official registration and financial information of ABC Strath Haven, Inc. may be obtained from the PA Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania: 1-800-732-0999.