This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Education Fund announced this week that it received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the fund’s College Access Program in five District high schools.
PEF is one of 459 nonprofit organizations across the nation sharing a $144 million pot committed to improving college readiness for disadvantaged youth. The TRIO Talent Search grant, as it is called, will help create a college-going culture at the schools and provide resources to prepare students for post-secondary education.
"This funding will open new doors for our high school students, as they dream big,” said Farah Jimenez, PEF’s president and CEO. Jimenez is also a member of the School Reform Commission.
“And now [they] have the opportunity to realize those dreams. The College Access Program is a strong supplement to the good work of our teachers and administrators in this city.”
The College Access Program will continue to help more than 1,200 students at Kensington Creative & Performing Arts (Kensington CAPA), John Bartram, ASPIRA Olney Charter, Roxborough, and Strawberry Mansion High Schools. The program has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education since 1990, helping more than 75,000 students graduate from high school and enroll in college.
Lisette Agosto-Cintron, principal of Kensington CAPA, said the program is very successful at her school. More than 90 percent of students who go through the College Access Program move on to post-secondary education, she said.
With the grant, schools will continue to receive mentoring, assistance with college and financial aid applications, workshops to prepare for enrollment, and help in choosing a school and a major. Each school has a College Access Program coordinator to supervise the program. The grant will keep the program going for another five years.
Strawberry Mansion is the newest addition to the program, replacing Paul Robeson HIgh School for Human Services. With the help of the College Access program, Robeson High School was eventually able to focus support on post-secondary enrollment on its own, so it transitioned out.
“We worked very hard to secure this grant,” said Kim Stephens, the PEF vice president in charge of programs.
“And we’re very proud of it and proud of our ability to positively affect and change the lives of thousands of students in Philadelphia.”