Unity Center was founded in 1987 by Gene & Nancy Foehl. Unity Center first opened as an independent transitional housing program for homeless women and children at Ninth and Lincoln Streets in Chester, PA and was supported by various individuals and churches.
In 1997 Unity Center changed its mission to provide volunteer, community organizing, educational, athletic, social and business opportunities to Chester and other Delaware County, PA residents. The first stage of this work involved neighborhood cooperatives that set up computers labs giving training and access to residents and youth whose technology options were limited or nonexistent. These labs were in community centers, churches, and public housing developments. Out of this work sprung many other collaboratives. Unity Center facilitated a partnership where five area businesses were matched with Villanova graduate students to develop sustainable business plans. The organization established the Martin Luther King Day of Service and over the years has served as a fiscal agent for other non-profit groups.
In 2006 Unity Center began renovating the building that now houses the Chester Student Center, which provides youth and adult educational and social activities and houses various other Chester non-profit groups in addition to its own activities. The after school homework support program has assisted many grade school children over the years. Scores of students from Eastern and Widener Universities have worked alongside staff and other volunteers from Chester and the suburbs to create a caring and safe space for learning and other activities. The annual Christmas party has been attended by hundreds of youth and their families.
In 2007, Unity Center established what we believe to be the only student run Youth Court in the country at Chester High School. This highly successful ongoing program has become a regional model. Other work with high school students includes the developing of service learning programs, teaching life-skills classes and the facilitating of youth entrepreneurial ventures.