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About Us


Philadelphia Futures: a union of White-Williams Scholars and Philadelphia Futures provides Philadelphia's low-income, first-generation-to-college students with the tools, resources and opportunities necessary for admission to and success in college.

Working with volunteer mentors, donors, and school and college personnel in direct service to students, in partnership with educational institutions, and in advocacy activities in the broader community, Philadelphia Futures increases the percentage of Philadelphia graduates prepared for higher education, while simultaneously reducing the institutional barriers to their academic success. Our organization operates on the belief that a college education is the portal to economic self-sufficiency and a satisfying life.



Philadelphia Futures has developed and implemented an extensive array of programs and services that help students step up to success. At the core of our organization is Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) – a nationally-recognized program that provides students from Philadelphia’s neighborhood high schools with the critical support and resources they need to achieve their dream of a college education. Beyond the SAS Program, Philadelphia Futures publishes the annual Step Up to College Guide – an invaluable resource for thousands of students across Philadelphia. In addition, we work with businesses, foundations, and other organizations that look to Philadelphia Futures to help create and manage scholarship and award programs on their behalf.


Sponsor-A-Scholar Program

Our flagship program, Sponsor-A-Scholar, has a track record of success in supporting low-income students attending Philadelphia’s neighborhood high schools on the journey to – and through – college. We provide comprehensive services and resources to students and their families to remove the academic, financial, and social barriers that traditionally prevent first-generation-to-college students from achieving college success.

The SAS Program is unique in the depth and duration of its services. We support students from the beginning of the 9th grade through the transition to college and the achievement of a college degree. Our multi-pronged approach includes long-term, one-on-one mentoring; year-round academic enrichment and college guidance activities; $6,000 for college-related expenses; and individualized staff support through high school and college.

While in high school, SAS students are exposed to a series of activities and resources designed to prepare them for college, including after-school classes, SAT preparation, summer enrichment experiences, college counseling, campus visits, career awareness, clubs, cultural outings, one-on-one mentoring, and more.

During college, the Office of College Retention and Success (OCRS) provides SAS collegians with individualized counseling, preparation for graduate school and careers, and financial support and guidance. The OCRS also develops and maintains strategic partnerships with several Pennsylvania colleges and universities that support SAS students financially and academically.

Because of our “whatever it takes” approach, SAS students succeed in high school, enter college, and obtain their degrees in record numbers.


Step Up to College Guide

To help local high school students and their families navigate the path toward college, Philadelphia Futures annually publishes the award-winning publication, Step Up to College: Philadelphia’s Guide to the College Preparation, Application, Admissions & Financial Aid Processes.

Forty-thousand copies of Step Up to College are distributed to public, parochial and charter high schools, libraries, and many community-based organizations. 

Available to students and their families without cost, this critically important publication offers information about how to pursue postsecondary application, the college application process, and financial aid resources. 


Scholarship and Award Programs

Philadelphia Futures provides services to businesses, foundations, and other organizations to help create and manage scholarship and award programs. We’re honored to work with the Eagles Youth Partnership, The Leonore Annenberg School and Scholarship Fund, and Sunoco in furthering their efforts to recognize and reward high school students for outstanding achievement.


Fast Facts

Philadelphia Futures: a union of White-Williams Scholars and Philadelphia Futures has produced significant and measurable results that have made our approach a model for organizations nationwide. 

  • Philadelphia Futures was founded in 1989, and White-Williams Scholars was founded in 1800. The organizations merged in July 2011.
  • Since 1918, White-Williams Scholars has provided financial stipends to thousands of high achieving, low-income students in Philadelphia.
  • The first Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) class was recruited in 1990.
  • Nearly 900 students have completed the high school portion of the SAS Program; 98% matriculate to college.
  • The overall persistence rate of SAS and College Connection students is 85%.
  • The potential college graduation rate for the SAS Classes of 2006-2008 is 66% - 13 percentage points above our overall SAS college graduation rate of 53%.
  • More than 900 mentors have volunteered for the SAS Program.
  • Annually, Philadelphia Futures publishes and distributes more than 40,000 copies of the Step Up to College guide. Step Up to College is the premier resource for Philadelphia's college-bound students and their families.
  • Urban boys of color face overwhelming obstacles on their journey to college. In response to this national crisis, Philadelphia Futures created the Young Men's Initiative, which provides boys with opportunities to be exposed to positive male role models and helps to foster positive personal and academic outcomes.
  • Each year, as the administrator of the Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls, Philadelphia Futures awards more than $1 million in grants to young women residing in single-parent homes in Philadelphia for tuition assistance and to fund life-changing, academic-enrichment programs.



Honors and Recognition

We are very proud that the effectiveness of our work has been recognized over the years in many different ways.

1994 President Clinton awarded Philadelphia Futures the President’s Volunteer Action Award during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
2003 President Bush recognized mentor David Richman for his volunteer service to Philadelphia Futures.
2005 The Manhattan Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Award was presented to Executive Director Joan Mazzotti.
2006 Philadelphia Futures received Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Relations’ Annual Award to a Nonprofit Organization.
2007 The Pennsylvania Society honored Philadelphia Futures at its annual awards dinner.
2009 Sponsor-A-Scholar was featured in the Urban Advocate, a national newsletter for urban school district educators, as a “best practice” in college access and retention programs for low-income youth.
2010 The academic achievements of Sponsor-A-Scholar students were recognized with an invitation to the White House by President Obama’s Office of Public Engagement.
2010 Executive Director Joan Mazzotti was honored in a pregame ceremony at a Phillies game with the State Farm Insurance Good Neighbor Award.