This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
In a District where 40 percent of students fail to graduate high school within six years, calling for an increase in college-going rates seems a tall order.
In Philadelphia, it is a top priority.
Last October, Citi Foundation launched the Citi Postsecondary Success Program (CPSP) in Philadelphia, awarding a $600,000 annual grant over a five-year period to the Philadelphia Education Fund to support it.
A nationwide program also available in Miami-Dade County and San Francisco, it will focus on four Philadelphia schools: Benjamin Franklin; Roxborough; Kensington High School for Business, Finance, and Entrepreneurship; and Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
These schools were chosen for the initiative in part due to their large populations of potential first-generation college students.
CPSP will partner with collegepreparedness programs within the District to identify what is missing from these schools, and what actions should be taken to improve the city’s collegegoing culture.
Rick Moses, director of CPSP at the Philadelphia Education Fund, said the initiative’s goal is to work closely with its collaborative partners to implement a “systemic and sustainable” change within schools that will outlast the five-year grant.
Carol Fixman, the Ed Fund’s executive director, said CPSP is now analyzing school data, such as graduation rates and credit accumulation, to determine where schools are lagging in their efforts to get kids to college.
Once these holes are identified, CPSP will begin to devise and apply solutions that Moses said he hopes will become “part of the fabric of these schools.”
“[There are] kids that are out there that don’t have the sense that [college] is an option for them,” Moses said.
“We’re looking to make sure all students get the opportunity,” Fixman added.