Ben Brake Appointed to Board of The Chester Fund

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Will Help Raise Funds for Some of America's Neediest Children

Ben brings not only business and financial expertise, but a true, deep concern and understanding for the students and goals of this school.

Ben Brake has been appointed to the board of directors of The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts, a not-for-profit organization that provides financial support to the Chester Upland School of the Arts, a new public arts magnet that is privately assisted in the city of Chester, Pennsylvania. Along with his board appointment, Brake will co-chair The Chester Fund's development committee. This announcement is significant because Brake will help raise funds to sustain the school, which is located in one of America's neediest school districts.

The Chester Upland School of the Arts opened in September and is providing excellence in education for the young residents Chester. For several decades, the city of Chester has struggled with the loss of industry, an eroding tax base, and a population that has decreased by almost 50% since 1950. According to 2000 census records, the per capita income in the City of Chester is $13,052. For the 2007-08 academic year, 4,184 children were enrolled in Chester Upland School District public schools: 3,312 or 80% were from families that met Federal poverty guidelines. A total of 768 children were enrolled in grades Pre-K through 2nd, the grades that the Chester Upland School of the Arts currently serves: 749, or 98%, were from families that met Federal poverty guidelines. The school is a model for the American education system, combining public and private sector resources to provide an education that will allow its students to ultimately compete at the best universities nationwide. The Chester Upland School of the Arts currently serves pre-school through second grade and will use the funds to expand by one additional grade each year.

"We are thrilled to have Ben on the board for the Chester School," said John Alston, founder of The Chester Fund. "Ben brings not only business and financial expertise, but a true, deep concern and understanding for the students and goals of this school."

"This is a winning cause, and it's working because the public and private sectors have banded together to support beautiful children in a struggling school district." said Ben Brake, board member. "The Chester Upland School of the Arts is producing citizens who can repair their community and ultimately, repair the world. Investing in The Chester Fund enables the school to continue making intellectual progress amongst talented children and nurture imagination."

Brake has 20 years of experience in banking and presently serves as co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Epic Research, LLC, a financial services advisory and marketing firm. Brake is responsible for the strategy and execution of all of Epic's marketing programs. Most recently, Mr. Brake was the CMO for Juniper Financial/Barclaycard US, where he served on the bank's board of directors as a founding member of the management team.

Brake holds an MBA from the University of Virginia and a bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary. He also serves on the board of Smarter Agent (http://www.smarteragent.com), a private company located in Camden, NJ.

About The Chester Upland School of the Arts
The Chester Upland School of the Arts opened its doors to 200 students on Sept. 4, offering a pre-kindergarten through second grade education. The school fulfils a dream by John Alston, a Swarthmore College music professor and Founder/Music Director of the one hundred voice Chester Children's Chorus, who organized a non-profit foundation to bring an arts school to Chester. The school's curriculum combines rigorous academic expectations with arts integration (music, dance, and art), creating a learning environment that fosters intellectual achievement and critical thinking, creativity, and artistic excellence.

In July of 2007 the Sunshine Lady Foundation, which is headed by Doris Buffett, the sister of philanthropist Warren Buffett, awarded The Chester Fund a $500,000 challenge grant. The Chester Upland School of the Arts is currently on the road to success, with the hopes of enrolling students through 8th grade by adding a grade each year. CUSA is operated as a public school in partnership with the not-for-profit Chester Fund for Education and the Arts.

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Katie Baynes
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