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Drexel Professor Teaches Life Skills to Foster Youth

Dr. Chuck Williams

August 10, 2012

Thirty ninth-grade students from Arise Academy Charter High School, the only charter school for foster youth in the country, will receive individual mentoring and social skills training through a new partnership with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The partnership will be funded by the Stoneleigh Foundation.

Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, students will be partnered with individual mentors through Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s national and highly acclaimed mentoring model. The organization will also manage mentor training, selection, support and screening.

Students will also receive additional life-skills training from Dr. Chuck Williams, a professor in Drexel University’s School of Education and a 2012 Stoneleigh Fellow, who is himself a former foster youth. Social skills activities facilitated by Williams will be based on the Ready-to-Use Social Skills Lessons and Activities for Grades 7-12, published by The Society for the Prevention of Violence and The Center for Applied Research in Education.
Arise students
“We are thrilled to support this new partnership that will provide mentors for older youth in care,” said DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose. “The importance of a supportive and caring adult in the life of a young person cannot be overstated. Mentoring programs such as this one help our youth to learn to make good decisions, develop their talents and interests, and obtain the skills they need to become successful adults.”

While much of the program will focus on developing social skills, character education and cognitive behavioral support, mentees and mentors will also participate in social activities of their choice including attending athletic and community events, going to dinner and a movie, reviewing homework, taking trips to area colleges and universities and engaging in community service projects.

“Significant relationships with caring adults that are sustained over time greatly support student success and are the necessary complement to the rigorous and individualized academic program that we deliver to every child,” said Gabriel Kuriloff, CEO of Arise Academy.

Williams is an educational psychologist and director of the Center for Prevention of School-Aged Violence in Drexel University’s School of Education. In 2011, he was called upon to speak with senior White House staff at conference on community and faith-based partnerships and joined Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for a roundtable on education and economic development. He received the National Adoption Center’s Allison Award for his commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children in 2011. Williams currently serves as a member of the Oversight Board of the Department of Human Services. He earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Temple University, and a dual master's degree in counseling and organizational dynamics from Drexel University. For more information, visit

About Arise Academy Charter High School
Arise Academy Charter High School provides a high caliber academic program combined with high quality on-site support services for foster care youth, ages 14 to 21, who are moving towards emancipation. For more information, visit

About Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania
Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA is a donor and volunteer supported organization that enriches, encourages and empowers children to reach their highest potential through safe, one-to-one mentoring relationships. In Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties, nearly 4,000 children annually are more successful socially and academically because of the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA. For more information, call 215-790-9200 or visit

The Philadelphia Department of Human Services
The Philadelphia Department of Human Services is the City agency charged with protecting children from abuse, neglect, and delinquency; ensuring their safety and permanency in nurturing home environments; and strengthening and preserving families by enhancing community-based prevention services. In partnership with community organizations, DHS provides services to strengthen the overall well-being of Philadelphia children, youth, and families using a customer focused approach that is responsive to evolving community needs. For more information, visit

About The Stoneleigh Foundation

The Stoneleigh Foundation supports fellows exploring innovative, collaborative, cross-system reform to the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Their work changes policy and practice by providing new solutions to improving child well-being. For more information, visit