Project RECONNECT Helps Nearly 100 Students Achieve Graduation Dreams

Graduation cap and diplomaPhoto by Pavel Danilyuk on

WEST CHESTER, PA — One year after its launch, Project RECONNECT has enabled 97 students to celebrate their graduation, an achievement many thought was out of reach. Administered by the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC), this workforce development program assists individuals from southeastern Pennsylvania who were forced to halt their post-secondary education due to unforeseen personal circumstances.

Project RECONNECT targets those in high-priority or in-demand occupations, primarily in healthcare. The initiative not only covers tuition but also provides support for childcare, transportation, and food, removing significant barriers that often prevent students from completing their education.

The program enrolled students in regional colleges and universities, including Chestnut Hill College, Delaware County Community College, Harcum College, Montgomery County Community College, Peirce College, Penn State University, and West Chester University.

“This is graduation season—a time of celebration, recognizing the tremendous accomplishments of students who have worked hard to achieve formal qualifications,” said Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell, Marian Moskowitz, and Eric Roe. “For the 97 Project RECONNECT students, the celebration is even sweeter because it is an achievement they thought might never happen.”

The commissioners emphasized the dual benefits of the program: it not only transforms the lives of the graduates but also creates a better-educated and trained workforce for local employers.

Patti VanCleave, CCEDC Vice President of Workforce Development, highlighted the program’s success. “Since launching just one year ago, Project RECONNECT has helped almost 100 students eliminate the barriers to finishing their credential or degree. This provides a critical boost to the workforce in industries that need it most and has the potential to change a student’s future.”

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VanCleave expressed hope for continued funding to expand the program to other fields like technology and education.

Project RECONNECT is funded through a $2 million grant from the PA Department of Labor & Industry, supporting the Workforce Development Boards of Chester, Berks, and Montgomery Counties.

To qualify, students must have left their education programs within the past two years, maintain a GPA of at least 2.0, and have less than one year remaining for their certification or degree. Each student receives guidance from a Success Navigator, who offers coaching and support from day one through completion. The program also connects graduates with employers and workforce development programs to ensure they are career-ready.

Project RECONNECT’s success highlights the importance of targeted support in overcoming educational barriers. For the nearly 100 graduates, this initiative has turned deferred dreams into reality, offering new opportunities and hope for a brighter future. This milestone underscores the transformative power of education and the collective effort required to make it accessible to all.

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