Join Community Scholars Leadership Training!

Join Community Scholars Leadership Training!

We want to invite you to register for the Community Scholar Leadership Development Program beginning this Fall. It is offered by I-LEAD, founder of ACE and the Partnership Site program, which has been training grassroots community leaders for more than 20 years. The Leadership program consists of eight, 90-minute workshops, delivered via zoom on a monthly basis. We will talk about familiar leadership skills such as goal setting and team building, but approach these topics through a unique lens of personal growth. The workshops focus on strengthening participants’ skills in the leadership arenas of mindfulness, compassion, visioning, willpower and resilience. 

Workshop time will be used to introduce a practice(s) that corresponds to these leadership arenas for participants to try out during the month. Prior to the next session, participants will meet 1:1 (via zoom) with a program coach from I-LEAD staff to review the practices and together discuss observations, reflections, and questions to date. The subsequent workshop will begin with a facilitated period of sharing and reflection about participants’ experiences with the practice for that month.

I-LEAD is providing a full scholarship for this program to all Harcum Community Scholars and a copy of the associated guidebook The Inward Sun by David Castro. With full participation, students will earn a Leadership Certificate from Harcum. While not credit bearing, the Leadership Certificate is a valuable credential to add to your professional profile.  

Given the Monday-Thursday evening class schedules of ACE students, we will plan to meet on Fridays from 6-7:30 pm. Please register here for the Leadership Program. An I-LEAD team member will reach out to each person who signs up to discuss the program further and answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, please reach out to [email protected] We look forward to meeting you! 

Meet Joan Majors.

Meet Joan Majors.

Joan majors is a current student, enrolled in the business management program at the Delaware County Partnership Site. Like many students, Ms. Majors had a unique pathway into the program. She wasn’t looking for another career or an associate degree after retiring from her 26 year tenure at Temple University. She was caring for her mother and grateful for the additional time to devote to that relationship. And while providing this care, Joan developed a new hobby to help her focus and relieve stress – the therapeutic art of jewelry making. Initiated as a personal wellness practice, friends began asking if any of the pieces were for sale, and the idea of a home-based business sparked in her mind. 

About the same time, Joan made a presentation about a ministry she began to a local community group. The group’s organizer, Ms. Veronica Norris, earned a degree through the ACE Partnership Site program, and thought the program would be of benefit to Joan as she builds both her ministry and new jewelry making business. “The program sounded doable – a two year commitment, two evenings per week. Ms. V encouraged me to give it a try. What did I have to lose!” 

Now beginning her second semester, Ms. Majors is thoroughly enjoying the experience. She appreciates that the structure of the program is geared toward working adults with only two evenings per week of class time. She’s been impressed by instructors who facilitate class members getting to know one another, even in a virtual zoom-based environment. She notes that instructors also recognize that adult learners may have been out of the classroom for (some time) and skillfully incorporate instruction in writing and grammar into class content. She learned, for example, that the language one uses when writing for a professional audience is not the same as everyday speech. Joan speaks particularly highly of a professor who uses a very interactive teaching style that involves students in instruction while affirming the value of their personal and professional experiences as adult learners. He inspired discussion by presenting scenarios related to the course subject and asking students, “what would you do? How would you handle this?” Overall, Ms. Majors appreciates the person-centered and supportive atmosphere of the program. “Professors are available before class. When I call the school, someone picks up the phone. Partnership Site staff communicate that they’re here to help. I like having my hand held!” 

Perhaps most importantly, Joan is experiencing the program as a safe place to learn and grow. While revealing what one doesn’t know to class members and instructors has not been comfortable in the moment, it has resulted in openness of mind to new information, perspectives, and possibilities. It has also promoted Joan’s curiosity and courage as future questions arise. 

Ms. Majors looks forward to continuing her educational journey and earning an associate Degree in business management, acquiring skills to grow not only her home-based business but her self as well.

For more information about Ms. Majors jewelry creations, click here.

In Case You Missed It…

In Case You Missed It…

The following remarks were shared by David Castro, Co-Founder and President of I-LEAD, Inc. and the ACE Program, welcoming new students for Fall 2021. 

We’re on a journey together… we are on a quest together. Right now I want you to visualize yourself completing our quest– within the next three years. It will be a bright sunny day in May. This virus that has disrupted so much will be less of a threat because or broad uptake of the vaccines. The economy will be back. The job market will be back. Travel will be back. And Harcum’s campus will be alive with activity. It will be graduation day. The trees will be in bloom and your family and friends will have gathered to be with you. You will be walking across that graduation stage and Dr. DeTemple will hand you the degree that you have earned.

But the you that’s here today will not be the same as the one who completes the quest. The one who completes the quest will be a new you. A new version of yourself that has grown in so many ways
–Increased Powers of Analysis
–Increased Powers of Communication, Better Speaker, Better Writer
–Increased Understanding of the World
–Powerful Marketable Skills
–A powerfully expanded social network of support to help you the rest of your life
–Strong leadership skills, allowing you to accomplish what you set your mind to.

How will this transformation happen? It will happen because of your journey in this program as one of Harcum’s Community Scholars. This journey offers you extraordinary benefits. Here are some the highlights:

–The scholarship itself is very important, which helps to fund your educational journey. Without that generous investment from Harcum, most could not afford to participate in this program.

–Next, you have the vital support of your community partner–I mean the site coordinator and the community-based organization that introduced you to Harcum and helped you get here today. Together with your team at Harcum, these important guides are dedicated to helping you reach your goal of graduating from college.

–Also, your community scholarship will allow you to participate in I-LEAD’s leadership development program, beginning in September. This is a life transforming experience that will help you develop interpersonal skills and leadership abilities you will rely upon for the rest of your life. And as a community scholar, you’ll also be building a powerful social network, that network of support that includes your friends, your teachers, and the larger community of Harcum Alumni. This team of people will be your allies in confronting life’s challenges. This social strength that you gain from Harcum is just as important as the knowledge and skills that you will gain.

And all of these benefits and others will come together, and will increase your grit, resilience, ability and determination.  We know you have those qualities because you are here today. 

You will be on that stage receiving your degree before you know it! Congratulations on making this investment in yourself, in your family and community.

We recognize that this is a stressful time in America. Many people think stress is bad for your health. But I’m going to tell you a secret, let you in on something very important. It’s not necessarily true that stress is bad for you. Stress can actually be very good for your health. 

In our leadership program, we look at the work of Kelly McGonigal, a famous Stanford University psychologist. McGonigal’s research shows us how people can thrive under stress… how they can actually become stronger. You’re going to master that ability of becoming stronger under stress.

Stress in life can be just like the vaccine against the virus that threatens us. The vaccine puts some stress on our immune systems, and that stress wakes up and strengthens the immunity we need to defeat the virus. In the same way, exercise stresses your body, you break down but you build back muscle and endurance, you get stronger. Stronger in the places that were weak before.

And I think this is one of the reasons that employers value a college degree. Because they know that taking on the stress of going to college builds your strength, makes you more capable of contributing to an organization.

College is a life transforming experience. People who graduate from college
–double their lifetime incomes
–stay employed during times of economic upheaval like the one we are experiencing right now
–are happier, healthier, live longer, and become leaders 
–and best of all, when you graduate, your children are more likely to succeed in their lives.

This educational journey is all about you and your success. It’s about helping you to avoid the problems that arise from not reaching your full potential.

This whole initiative, this movement we call ACE, Achieve College Education, requires a whole community. And we want to thank them. We want to thank Harcum, Dr. DeTemple, Evelyn Santana, and all of the program directors and leaders here for making this possible. We also want to recognize and thank our community partners. So many people here are passionately engaged to help you achieve success. 

I want you to know that this year we celebrated having more than 1,300 learners earn degrees from this program. Today you join a vibrant community of hundreds of other learners in this partnership initiative. They are thriving and you will be also. 

I want to leave you with two short quotes to think about during this orientation.

First, from Nelson Mandela. A man who thrived under stress, who led the entire nation of South Africa from inside a small prison cell. He said, “Education is the most powerful tool to change the world. Armed with education, you will lead the change that this world needs.” 

Second, Mahatma Gandhi, liberator of India, who inspired Dr. King. Gandhi said, “Live today as if you would die tomorrow. Learn today as if you would live forever.”


Don’t “Should” on Yourself

Don’t “Should” on Yourself

Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t should on yourself?” It refers to automatic negative thoughts like  I should do that…I should have already done that…I should be more like them.. For those of us familiar with these phrases, recognize them as forms of subtle aggression toward ourselves. That tape of self-judgment that plays in our minds actually does harm to our own being. Author, researcher and professor Brene Brown has made it her life’s work to help people not ‘should’ on themselves. In a series of podcasts based on her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are you may find some freedom and fresh space to let go of those ‘shoulds’ that can unconsciously hold us back. The series is called “Unlocking Us” and can be found on Spotify and via this link: https://brenebrown.com/unlockingus/.

Meet Shantelle Thomas.

Meet Shantelle Thomas.

“College is for smart people, I didn’t feel smart, college is not for me.” This was the internal dialog of Shantelle Thomas before she began her higher education journey with ACE. Although Shantelle grew up in a household where plans for the future weren’t discussed, she was about to tap into the educational legacy of her family, and recognize her place in it. Shantelle is the niece of Barbara Hankinson who is a force for education in her family (see June newsletter), and cousin to Thomas Jarrett who also graduated from the ACE program and then from West Chester University in May(see September newsletter)

Shantelle’s interest in going back to school began with a very practical spark: wanting to provide a better life for her family. She knew that a degree was necessary to apply for a higher level and higher paying position, and happened to have a friend enrolled in ACE pursuing an associate degree. Her friend spoke with excitement about her experience, telling Shantelle of the support she received at the partnership site and encouraging her to give it a try. “You can do this. Start here. They will gently guide you through the process where you’re not alone.” 

This encouragement and assurance that she would not have to figure everything out on her own was exactly what Shantelle needed to hear. She had to recognize that college was doable for her. It was then that earning a degree became a possibility in her mind. “If someone else did it, that inspires and encourages me. It helps me believe that I can too, and I push forward.” 

Shantelle contacted an ACE staff member and set up an appointment to meet and learn more about the program. Even in that first conversation, she found the guidance and support she was looking for to apply for both the degree program of her choice and financial aid. “I didn’t understand the process and felt very defeated. But I met great people. Mr. Harold stepped in as a father figure to me. If it wasn’t for him, I would have turned away.” After enrollment and the start of classes, Shantelle found the same level of care and support at the partnership site. “The staff identified themselves as the go-to people to ask for help with any challenge you had. Anything I needed to know, those people were there for me.” 

Having support doesn’t mean adding class and homework time to full time work and family life was easy. Shantelle acknowledges that it was difficult and challenging, but also realized she could handle it and thrived in the program. Graduating in 2019, Shantelle built on the foundation of confidence and success she gained through ACE and continued on to a bachelor’s degree program at Chestnut Hill College. Armed with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Criminal Justice as of Spring 2021, Shantelle now works exactly where she dreamed of since the beginning of her ACE journey: the Philadelphia district attorney’s office. In fact, she has already earned a promotion. 


Resources for Entrepreneurs!

Resources for Entrepreneurs!

There are many among our outstanding alumni and current student body who are current or aspiring entrepreneurs. Some of you have started businesses, some are making plans for a start-up, and others are looking to begin a nonprofit to serve the community. We at I-LEAD seek to empower and equip you to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavors. One means of doing so is to remind you of and connect you with one another. Through ACE, you belong to a network of more than 1,500 people (alumni and current students) who could become business partners, advisors, investors and customers. Please share ideas for connecting on this form … In addition to the power of the network you have with one another, there are a number of local resources available for budding entrepreneurs. 

Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Office of Business Services (OBS) Our business service managers offer one-on-one support to help small businesses navigate City requirements and other challenges they may encounter.

The Small Business Development Center at Temple University offers businesses and startups free one-on-one consulting focused on growth strategies, entrepreneurship based seminars and courses, technical assistance regarding the procurement of government contracts and a small business incubator. Staff bios: https://www.pasbdc.org/centers/temple-university

Operation HOPE offers small-business workshops and a more intensive entrepreneurial training program that helps participants master business basics, create and maintain a strong small business plan,and gain access to funding and resources to grow their business. Located within local banks, Operation HOPE also offers money management, credit counseling, and homeownership programs. HOPE Inside Fulton Bank, 2700 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130 Isaiah Price [email protected] (267) 223-5156 Additional locations: 1501 N. Broad St., 6500 Castor Ave.

The Entrepreneurship Center of the Urban League of Philadelphia offers coaches and consultants to assist in areas such as sales, marketing, IT, strategic planning, and training for employees and other business services.

SCORE Philadelphia is a network of volunteer business experts who provide free answers to business questions, mentoring, workshops and networking.

The Sustainable Business Network(SBN) of greater Philadelphia is a membership based organization of businesses that are committed to a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. In other words, SBN supports profitable enterprises that serve community needs, share wealth, and protect the environment. SBN offers a beginners guide to sustainable business, networking, and advocacy. Founded by Judy Wicks of the White Dog Cafe.

The Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia is home to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) that provides general business consulting, assists minority entrepreneurs to capital and new markets. Additional business services of The Enterprise Center can be found here, including a center for start-up culinary businesses. 

For existing entrepreneurs, the Power Up your Business Program of the Community College of Philadelphia offers a Store Owner workshop series covering topics such as social media marketing and accounting, a 12-week Peer-Based Learning Experience covering marketing, financials, human resource and operations, insurance and legal, and Industry Best Practices workshops currently in restaurant and retail. All workshops delivered online. [email protected] 215.496.6151 

CCP also hosts the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program where business owners gain practical skills in topics such as negotiation, marketing and employee management, and develop a strategic and customized growth plan to take their business to the next level. Application required

Cheryl Lang Memorial Scholarship Fund

Cheryl Lang Memorial Scholarship Fund

Announcing and inviting donations for: The Cheryl Lang Memorial I-LEAD Scholarship Fund to provide grants to adult working learners enrolled in the Partnership Site Program of Harcum College.

Mrs. Cheryl Lang served as Director of Community Engagement with I-LEAD, Inc. for more than fifteen years, establishing community partnerships, building relationships with professionals in the higher education field, training organizations as new ACE program partners, and coaching and advising prospective and current students to pursue a college degree. An advocate and celebrant for students, Mrs. Lang was also a member of the original I-LEAD training team that built the leadership capacities of residents from marginalized communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The scholarship fund will focus on distributing grants between $500 and $1,000 to students who are especially disadvantaged for whom grants of this size would be impactful toward their continued attendance, retention and graduation from the program. Special consideration will be given to single parents and ex-offenders. Funds may be used according to the applicant’s discretion. To qualify, a student must have completed at least one semester with a minimum C+ average and demonstrate commitment to finishing their degree program.

Click here to make a contribution.
be sure to drag the green bar underneath the “tip go fund me” to zero.


Meet Barbara Hankinson.

Meet Barbara Hankinson.

Barbara Hankinson is a force in her family for education. Never allowing others to define her ability or her self, Ms. Hankinson forged her own path in life and blazed a trail for multiple generations. 

College was not a topic of conversation in her household growing up. Yet as the ninth of ten children, a female, and at a young age, Ms. Barbara set her sights on becoming a doctor. Inspired by the vision of a lady doctor on a TV show, she graduated from community college and was awarded a prestigious scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology. The next step was medical school. However, Ms. Barbara found herself rejected from Temple University Medical School because she was a single mother. At the time, the admission team thought, ‘how could she handle medical school?’ 

But they clearly didn’t know her. Although it was a struggle, she had already made it through undergraduate studies as a single parent with a full time job. Determined to succeed in anything she puts her mind to, Ms. Barbara took her dream in another direction, returning to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school. “It was ok because I knew who I was. You think I was welcomed on campus as black student in the 70s? I was still told I didn’t belong as a grad student. It is so important to have a safe space to learn, to get to know who you are as a possibility.” 

Ms. Barbara knows firsthand that the ACE Partnership Site program is such a space. At the partnership sites, she notes that students realize they have resources, a network, a voice, and are not alone on the college journey. During class, in dialog with other learners, and when pleasantly surprised by their first A, partnership site students come to recognize themselves as successful college material [or] /  come to see that college is in fact, for them, and they can be successful.]  

And while Ms. Hankinson was the first to graduate college in her family, she too, is no longer alone. All of her children, nieces and nephews are attending or graduated from college. Two family members have even literally followed in her footsteps, both graduating from Harcum College in 2019 and then completing bachelors degrees this Spring from West Chester University (Thomas) and Chestnut Hill College (Shantelle). For although Ms. Barbara is not a Harcum graduate, she was an original participant in I-LEAD’s community leadership development training from which the ACE Partnership Site program was born. “It’s coming full circle. The commitments made in the beginning made it possible for Shantelle and Thomas. And now it’s in the next generation. Shantelle’s daughters are attending Penn State and the University of Virginia. It’s like I pulled back the storm curtain and they all ran through!” With a smile and a delighted clap of hands, Ms. Barbara declares, “When you come near me you’re going to be transformed!” Believe it.    

Ms. Hankinson’s choice to further her education and earn a college degree has impacted generations of her family. Yours can too. Imagine and believe in who you are as a possibility

Tips for Transitioning from COVID Restrictions

Tips for Transitioning from COVID Restrictions

by Tori Partridge, PBS.org

With vaccines widely available and case numbers dropping, cities around the U.S. are dropping restrictions and focusing on “getting back to normal” for the summer. But for many — after more than a year in isolation — “normal” feels scary. Experts say we need to talk more about what transitioning to a more open society will be like — and what our new normal will be like.

Here are some tips on how exactly to do that, from Riana Elyse Anderson, a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and psychiatrist Dr. Jessi Gold, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.


People need to acknowledge their anxiety, and find the best coping skills to move forward.

But how do you find those coping skills? Anderson says even people who had reliable coping methods before the pandemic might find they aren’t working now. It’s important to assess if a coping skill is still working for you, and if not, explore others — on your own or with a mental health professional.

“Cooking for me used to be something that was such a great stress reliever. I’d come home, make a meal, and now if I have to look at another pot, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Anderson said.


Gold says during the pandemic our baseline stress has changed. The things that did not cause us stress before the pandemic might be hard to deal with now, and vice versa.

“Our baseline mental health, our baseline stress for everything is very different than it was for everybody. And you just have to be aware of that and be OK with that,” Gold said.




It’s important to pay attention to these changes and make new evaluations about what is stressful, and how you handle it, while our workplaces and communities adjust. You don’t have to make adjustments all at once. Anderson says after the kind of constant stress we’ve experienced over the last year, these reactions are normal.


Through the pandemic, and as venues reopen, people have different levels of personal safety. When interacting with people who had a different response to the health threat Anderson says it’s important to find common ground. But by the same token, Gold says, it’s also important to set boundaries.

“You build boundaries at some capacity and the level of that boundary is up to you,” Gold said. “You can make boundaries around conversation topics, which is to say, like, I still like that person as a human and I’m not going to completely judge everything I’ve ever known about them my whole entire life or however long you’ve known them based on what they’re doing right now.”


Gold says conversations about mental health need to happen more often and be less under the surface. And instead of trying to go back to “normal” we need to process what has happened during the pandemic and more forward.

“I think that we will be in a place where all of us will be in a better, more healthy place if we can talk about things, including our feelings, out loud,” said Gold.

Watch the full conversation on mental health and advice as states continue to reopen here.




Memorial Day Family Activities

Memorial Day Family Activities

Philadelphia is a city in a park, which means there’s always green space, towering trees and stunning landscapes to be found just a heartbeat away from Center City. Check out all the ways to get outside this weekend without leaving the city: