Cheyney Foundation News

Top 5 reasons why YOU should care about Cheyney University

Top 5 reasons why YOU should care about Cheyney University

As many of you may or may not be aware the nation’s first Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (“Cheyney” or “the University”) is under tremendous pressure to meet rigid standards set out by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE). If the university fails to meet these standards by November 2017, they face loss of their accreditation and eventually closure.

There are so many deep-seated issues that have led the University to this point and you can certainly read about it in many articles across various mediums. However, it is critically important that we highlight what is NOT mentioned in the media, and often left out of the conversations regarding the school’s reputation. Cheyney University is a national treasure. It is an institution that ALL Americans should be proud of and its history alone should command great respect.

Here are 5 reasons why YOU should care about Cheyney and we hope to inspire you to take action to support and save this national landmark of an institution:


Did you know that Cheyney University is the oldest HBCU in the nation and it was founded right here in Philadelphia in 1837 — 180 years ago?

For those of you from Philadelphia, the school was located at 7th and Lombard and later moved to 9th and Bainbridge. Today Cheyney is located in Cheyney, PA (about 35 – 45 min outside of Philadelphia on the border of Delaware and Chester County).  

The school began when Richard Humphreys (a man born in the West Indies) traveled to America and witnessed the atrocities facing Black people at that time. He was devastated by the oppression of Black people and was compelled to make a difference. He knew that education would be instrumental to free slaves and thus, Mr. Humphreys bequest $10,000 in his will to be used to start “The Institute For Colored Youth” (which later became Cheyney University of Pennsylvania).  

Let’s just take a minute to let this sink in for just a second. “The Institute for Colored Youth” was started in 1837. What was happening during that time period? Exactly, it was slavery.

It was illegal for Black people to even be educated, let alone go to school. Plus, this was 24 years BEFORE the Civil War even began.

How can a school for Black people even be created during slavery? A time when possessing a book was egregious because of the color of your skin. This is nothing short of a miracle and for that, we should ALL be in “awe” that this school started in the first place.


Cheyney University alumni have not only made a tremendous impact on the city of Philadelphia, but they were pioneers for civil rights, public policy, social change, and helped build some of our most iconic buildings in Philadelphia and around the nation. The impact that Cheyney alumni have had on Philadelphia and the world is profound and quite frankly, ever lasting for generations to come. Let’s take a look at some of the iconic alumni.

Octavius Catto: Born in South Carolina as a free slave in 1839 his family moved north to Philadelphia a few years after he was born. Catto went on to become a huge icon in the Civil Rights Movement. Here are just a few of his accomplishments:

  • A student and principal at the Institute For Colored Youth
  • Created the first African American baseball team and won against all White teams
  • Fought for integration of African Americans on public transportation and won
  • Fought for African Americans to have the right to vote and was shot and killed by an Irish man for exercising his right to vote.
  • To see and learn more about Octavius Catto, please check out his video here.

Julian Abele: A prominent African American architect whose accomplishments include the following:

  • Designed the Free Library of Philadelphia
  • Designed the popular landmark, the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Lead designer of Duke University in North Carolina
  • Designed the Memorial Library at Harvard University

Ed Bradley: Born and raised in Philadelphia and attended private catholic schools growing up. He graduated from Cheyney with a degree in education and taught 6th grade math while moonlighting at CBS radio show. In 1967, he was able to land a full-time job at CBS, which kickstarted his journalism career. Here are a few of his accomplishments:

  • The first African American journalist to cover the White House
  • 26 years of award winning journalism on CBS’s “60 Minutes” show
  • Covered over 500 stories during his tenure as a broadcaster on “60 Minutes”, the topics ranged from politics to education to sports, music and culture.
  • Winner of the Peabody Award that recognizes excellence in television and radio storytelling.
  • Winner of 19 Emmy Awards

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell: Born and raised in West Philadelphia, a six term city councilwoman who has fought for the last 30 years for social change and better quality of life for her constituents. Here are a few of some her major accomplishments:

  • Chair of the Education Committee for the city of Philadelphia
  • Chair of the Housing and Urban Development Committee for the city of Philadelphia
  • Created a 10 year economic development plan to help increase affordable housing, jobs and business development in West Philadelphia.
  • Co-Founder for Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs

Those are just a few of some of the most notable alumni that Cheyney University has produced. The University boasts 30,000 alumni who are all across the world making impacts, being game changers and pioneers in their respective fields.

Current Students:

There are some very impressive college students that are attending Cheyney at the moment.  Many of these students come from low income families and some may not have been able to attend 4-year college due to the high cost of higher education.  

Cheyney not only gives these students the support that they need they also put them on a path to success in all aspects of their lives. Take a look at Samih. A recent Cheyney graduate who is from North Philadelphia. She did not have the financial means to pay for college and yet she had the grades, determination, and commitment to get her college degree.

Samih was a high achieving student who was able to secure a full scholarship as a result of her academic success, GPA and SAT/ACT scores.  She was amongst a cohort of high-achieving students who made up the Keystone Honors Scholars Program at Cheyney University, aside from tuition, each student also is provided with books and equipment along with opportunities to study abroad and to develop career skills through professional development activities.

This fall she will be attending The University of Pennsylvania and studying veterinary medicine.  She would have never had this opportunity if it were not for Cheyney University supporting her and guiding her to reach her dreams. Please consider helping her with her Go Fund Me page for her needed supplies for grad school.

Solution to Poverty

Philadelphia is one of the largest cities in our nation and unfortunately has one of the largest poverty rates in America. 25% of adults in Philadelphia live in poverty and 38% of the children are living in poverty. If we look at North Philadelphia and Kensington, 44% of adults live in poverty rate, almost doubled the rate of the rest of Philadelphia. This is a huge problem for our city as it stifles growth, the economy, can influence crime rates and more.  Cheyney University could be the solution to ending the cycle of poverty and here is why.

  • Cheyney University is the college that serves the majority of low income students with the many of these students receiving a Pell Grant. This means that Cheyney provides an opportunity of quality higher education to students that would not be given a chance to go to a 4 year college.  
  • Education is one of the pillars to ending the cycle of poverty as it helps students foster new skills in which they can become employable, teaches them how to think critically, and exposes them to opportunities that they never would have had otherwise. Cheyney has helped thousands of students gain many opportunities that they would have never received had they not gone to Cheyney. In addition there have been more students from Cheyney that have received doctorate degrees than any of the PASSHE schools.
  • Cheyney is the solution to poverty because nearly 26%of African Americans are living in poverty the second largest ethnic group in the country.  It has been well studied/documented that HBCU’s have a track record for not only doing a better job in supporting and educating the African American student, HBCU’s instill a sense of pride, confidence and security in the African American student better than Predominantly White Institutions.

Therefore with Cheyney being able to help the lower income student obtain a college degree, educate them and instill a sense of pride, confidence and security with the African American student, this is a huge opportunity with which to be a solution to the poverty issue in Philadelphia and around the nation.  


It is going to take YOU to help support Cheyney University. Really all of us.  We can not do this alone. Cheyney University is a national treasure and school that has helped thousands of people get a better education, and to have a better life.

Let’s face it. At the end of the day we have the same needs. We all want to be successful, we all want to have great jobs, take care of our families and hopefully the will to give back to others that may need support.  In the end, we all want the same things, and in a way we are all connected.

Please consider engaging with us by “Liking” us on Facebook / Linkedin at the Cheyney Foundation, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CheyneyFund. Please consider making a gift to our Cheyney 180 Challenge to help more Cheyney students with their education.


The Miracle of Cheyney University and the Miracle It Continues To Be…

The Miracle of Cheyney University and the Miracle It Continues To Be…

Samih Taylor pictured sharing her story at our “Honoring Our Greats” Event

by Chantelle Fitzgerald

On Feb 25, 1837, with a $10,000 bequest from Richard Humphreys, the Institute For Colored Youth was established in Philadelphia, PA.  During this time, slavery in the United States was legal. Legal slavery meant that slaveowners controlled every aspect of a slaves life, including their access to education. Education was a privilege and one granted only to those that were deemed

Thus, how could a school (The Institute for Colored Youth” later named Cheyney University of Pennsylvania) be established during slavery times when it was literally illegal for people of color to be educated, let alone attend school? That is nothing short of a miracle.

Fortunately, the miracle of Cheyney continues through the alumni that have made a significant impact in our nation and around the world. Here is how…

Octavius Catto: A graduate from the “Institute of Colored Youth” a Philadelphian who dedicated his life to help improve the lives of black people in American. He was the Jackie Robinson of his time creating the first ever all black baseball team. He was the Rosa Parks of his time who protested the right for black people to be able to take public transportation and he died trying to advocate for the right to vote. Catto is a hero, an American treasure and Cheyney University is proud to have educated such an incredible and fearless man. It is a miracle that he was able to do all of these things during the late 1800’s.

Julian Abele: An architect that went to Cheyney for his undergraduate degree. He went on to be the architect for the Free Library in Philadelphia (a major landmark in our city) the architect of the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art, the architect of many building of Duke University, and Harvard.  

Ed Bradley: A well known CBS journalists who was the first African American to be a White House Correspondent reporter and anchor for 60 minutes.

Jannie Blackwell: A councilwoman of Philadelphia for district 3 (West Philadelphia) who has made a tremendous impact on housing, education, and the African /Caribbean communities of Philadelphia.

Recent Graduate: A recent student that was homeless and who would have never gotten the chance to go to college, Cheyney gave her a chance. She not only took advantage of this opportunity but she also thrived.  She received (2) bachelors degrees from Cheyney University and was recently accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s School Medicine in Veterinary Science.

These alumni are a testament to what a Cheyney education can do. It can transform individuals into very high achieving and highly impactful citizens. The fact that a young woman from North Philadelphia having very little chance at getting into a 4 year college ends up going to Cheyney and will now be a student at one of the top veterinary schools in the country is not only a testament to her hard work and determination, but it is a testament to the miracle of Cheyney University.

Please consider giving support the #Cheyney180Challenge. This challenge not only marks the 180 anniversary of the oldest historically black college in the nation it is also an initiative to rally behind the school and give scholarships to current students.

The Cheyney Foundation Seeks to Close the Opportunity Gap by Providing Scholarship Access to all Students at Cheyney University via Scholly

The Cheyney Foundation Seeks to Close the Opportunity Gap by Providing Scholarship Access to all Students at Cheyney University via Scholly

by Brandy Jones

According to the New York Federal Reserve, at the close of the year 2016, student debt had risen to $1.3 trillion with over 44 million borrowers in the U.S. Although college enrollment has increased, the student debt crisis has prompted many to question whether receiving a college degree is worth being shackled to life-long debt. In 2015, the National Center of Education Statistics reported that the average total cost a 4-year private college was $41,970 per student, per year. Public 4-year institutions averaged a total of $16,188 a year for a full time student. For many students the only way to enroll in college is to rack up various loans to finance everything from their tuition to housing to equipment. Putting oneself through college has become a challenge for many, even the most ambitious students.

Students that come from low income families are often deterred by the cost of a college education. For many, scholarships are the only means of acquiring additional funds to finance their education. It is still, however, a misconception that scholarships are only awarded to those with high GPAs and athletic prowess. Many organizations, startups and centers have sprouted with a mission of providing students with resources to support them in securing scholarships. There has also been a rise in the development of apps and websites that seek to close the opportunity gap. These apps utilize their user-friendly platform to broadcast scholarship opportunities to students right on their cellphones. These apps place millions of scholarship dollars right at the fingertips of its consumers.  

One app in particular that stands out is Scholly. Scholly was founded by Christopher Gray, a Drexel graduate, who won over $1.3 million in scholarships to fund his entire undergraduate career. The app acts as a easily accessible directory for tons of scholarships that students can easily match to their skills, interests and backgrounds. Scholly’s mission is “opportunity for all” and uses its app to achieve its vision of “helping all students achieve their potential”.

Scholly is in the process of partnering with major universities (NYU and others) around the country to offer this app free of charge to students so that they may be able to easily access scholarships. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Vincent Hughes and his colleague and Cheyney Foundation Board member, Tiffany Wilson, The Cheyney Foundation was able to obtain a $5,000 grant through the state, to buy the Scholly app for all of its students.  

“This is an incredible resource”, says Cheyney Foundation president Chantelle Fitzgerald. “As it gives our students additional access to funding that they might not have known existed. The Cheyney Foundation is very proud that we can offer a resource that provides additional access to funding for our students.”

The Cheyney Foundation has been supporting Cheyney University since 1971. As an organization, we have given over $2.4 million to support the advancement of the university over the past 46 years. As we move into our next fiscal year, we are interested in supporting more students and closing the opportunity gap by providing scholarships to students. Are you interested in joining us in support of Cheyney students? Feel free to contact us at or feel free to donate to our Cheyney 180 Challenge  today!



Cheyney Foundation / PECO Help To Fund More Students of Color in STEM

Blog By Brandy Jones

Students of color and women have historically been absent from the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field. According to the 2013 Census Bureau report, Hispanic Americans make up 6.5% and African Americans only make up 6.4% of the people employed in the STEM field, in comparison to their white counterparts who make up 70% of those employed in the same field. In post-secondary institutions, very few students of color are choosing to major in these areas of study. The disparity is even more apparent when it comes to gender, in 2011 women made up only 26% of all the people employed in the STEM field, while men made up the remaining 76%. The Cheyney Foundation is making strides to further support students of color interested in pursuing careers in the STEM Field.

The Cheyney Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that directly supports Cheyney University. Cheyney University (“Cheyney”) is the first historically black college or university (HBCU). The institution, which was established in 1837, has had a mission of educating students from African descent since its inception. More recently, Cheyney boasts a diverse population of people from all walks of life. In light of the national push to get more students of color interested in STEM, the institution has seen an increase in research participation by both students and faculty, an increase in STEM enrollment as well as an increase students attending graduate and health professional schools after graduation.

Cheyney University like many other HBCUs supports its students through a family oriented culture on campus. Students regard the institution as a safe place; a place where they feel welcome and a home away from home and for many, the only home they know. Although the institution is about 40 miles away from one of the nation’s poorest cities, Philadelphia, the institution serves a predominantly low income population. With 75% of the students who come from low income backgrounds. Tuition at the university is amongst the lowest in the state, but many students still struggle to pay their term bills or even afford books, on-campus housing or other supplies to have a well rounded college experience.

The Cheyney Foundation has been supporting Cheyney University since 1971. As an organization, we have given over $2.4 million to support the advancement of the university over the past 46 years. This year, the Cheyney Foundation received a $25,000 grant from PECO to support the advancement of STEM scholars at Cheyney. This grant provided financial relief to 8 brilliant students who were in dire need of funding to continue their education. Of those 8 students, 75% of those students were women of color. The testimonies from each student revealed that for many students the only barrier between them and pursuing a STEM degree was the funding. Many students who studied STEM found themselves working multiple jobs to finance their education and were often distracted from their commitment to their academic goals because they had other roles outside of school. Some of the students were parents, some had to take care of siblings and others simply worked to further finance their education. With the funding, these students received they are now able to focus more on their academics and participate in experiential education opportunities to supplement their studies. This was all made possible thanks to the generosity of PECO, a corporation that has supported Cheyney University for decades and believes in the dreams of Cheyney students.

On June 22, 2017, we honored the 8 students who were awarded the scholarship and acknowledged them for all of their hard work. We congratulated them for overcoming the obstacles that would normally bog someone down and celebrated their aspirations of becoming dentists, urban farmers, veterinarians, nutritionists and child care specialists.

As we move into our next fiscal year, we are interested in supporting more students of color and women who are interested in STEM. We are hoping to secure more funding for STEM students and to provide more opportunities for students to grow professionally without worrying about finding the funds to excel. Are you interested in joining us in support of Cheyney students? Feel free to contact us at or feel free to donate to our Cheyney 180 Challenge  today!

PECO Supports the Cheyney Foundation by providing Scholarships to Alleviate Financial Barriers for 8 S.T.E.M. Students at Cheyney University.

Media Contact: Brandy Jones


Philadelphia, PA–  Eight students at Cheyney University are one step closer to reaching their goals of becoming advocates, change agents and innovators in the field of science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.). Each student was awarded $2,500 scholarships to alleviate financial barriers that could otherwise derail and distract them from reaching their goals. This scholarship was made possible by PECO, a longtime supporter of Cheyney University and the Cheyney Foundation. With aspirations ranging from developing urban aquaculture centers and farms in poor communities to providing education on reproductive processes for poor women of color and everything in between, these students have created a union between their passion for science and their interest in engaging their communities.

  On Thursday, June 22, 2017, from 6pm – 7:30pm, the Cheyney Foundation will be honoring these 8 students by hosting an intimate scholarship reception with PECO at the Cheyney Foundation office. For many of these students continuing their education would be a challenge or nearly impossible without this funding.

“The Cheyney Foundation & PECO S.T.E.M scholarship did not just give me money for school they gave me a chance to achieve my goals and really make a difference in the world. I will not take this award for granted and will pay it forward in whatever way I can in the future” shares senior Priscilla Muhanji, one of the scholarship recipients.

Priscilla, whose family comes from Kenya and Tanzania, has worked in various countries in both Europe and Africa mentoring and tutoring youth. She plans to eradicate medical disparities in rural areas in developing countries and attend medical school to study endocrinology after graduating from Cheyney.

The mission of the Cheyney Foundation is to fundraise, promote and support academic excellence, innovation and sustainability of Cheyney University. Established in 1971, the Cheyney Foundation has been committed to supporting Cheyney University and has given over $900,000 in scholarship dollars to the institution over the past 20 years.

For more information on the Cheyney Foundation, check out their website here.