Beating the Odds: Philadelphia Futures’ Annual College Kickoff

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Reach Higher hosted their 5th anniversary Beating the Odds Summit with Michelle Obama on July 23rd to celebrate students persevering despite the odds stacked against them, including the fact that ten to twenty percent of students who have committed to college never actually make it. This is due to a variety of reasons including financial obstacles and a fear of leaving home.

With a similar goal in mind, Philadelphia Futures hosted their annual College Kickoff at Temple University’s Mitten Hall on Thursday, August 1.  Incoming college freshmen had an opportunity to network and connect with upperclassmen who currently attend their schools and learn about life on campus. Chris Banks of The Banksgiving Company served as the keynote speaker for the event and shared his recommendations for smart financial planning with the scholars.

The annual College Kickoff is an opportunity to celebrate young Philadelphia scholars who are thriving despite statistics that would predict otherwise. Samirah, who attends Penn State Abington and graduated from Northeast High School in 2016, said, “The biggest obstacle I have encountered so far was learning how to be more confident in myself and reminding  myself that I have gotten this far because of all of my hard work.”

CollegeKickoff-Smaller2One hundred percent of Philadelphia Futures’ Class of 2019 scholars – 89 students in total — graduated and were accepted to college. Sixty-four percent of those scholars are attending a Philadelphia Futures partner college and will receive $2.4 million in financial aid. Philadelphia Futures’ partner schools include Albright College, Arcadia University, Dickinson College, Drexel University, Franklin & Marshall College, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Penn State University, Temple University, and Villanova University.

This year, Philadelphia Futures is also celebrating expanding its reach and focusing on student applications to well-resourced, top-tier colleges outside of the region that are the financial, academic, and social/emotional right “fit” choice for them. For the Class of 2019 high school graduates, these schools include Bowdoin College, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, Tufts University, Williams College, and Wellesley College.

Executive Director Sara Woods stressed the importance of making the right choices in college. She said, “You will be faced with many decisions during your college career, from deciding how to spend money to taking care of your well-being and health.  We encourage you to make choices that support your success.  Most of all, though, we hope you will choose to reach out to your college support team when you need it.”

In total, the Philadelphia Futures collegians in attendance will matriculate to 64 different colleges in the fall.  Many proudly wore their college t-shirts at the College Kickoff. You can find photos of the annual College Kickoff by visiting Philadelphia Futures’ Facebook and Instagram page.


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