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Each SAS student is matched with a volunteer mentor who is willing to make a long-term commitment to that student. Mentors motivate students to stay on track to achieve high school graduation, help students set goals and understand what it takes to meet them, guide students through the college preparation process, and work with parents and SAS staff to navigate obstacles. We expect students and mentors will talk at least once a week and get together about once a month.

Every student is matched with a Sponsor who contributes $7,500 for the benefit of that student. These funds are a powerful incentive for the student during high school, and an essential element of the student’s overall financial aid package once they enroll in college. Six thousand dollars ($6,000) of the sponsorship funds go directly to the student on a semester-by-semester basis to aid in covering college-related expenses such as textbooks, summer coursework, and transportation to and from school.

During the school year, 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students attend weekly, mandatory after-school classes. These classes are complementary to the high school curriculum and are designed to prepare students for the academic demands of college. Students strengthen their core reading, writing and presentation skills, and develop the “soft skills” – punctuality, self-discipline and accountability – that will help them succeed in school and in life. Seniors attend Senior Seminar, focusing on the nuts and bolts of the college application and financial aid processes. Once this work is completed, seniors explore topics that will help them make a smooth transition to their freshman year of college, including budgeting, time management, and responsible decision-making.

In the spring of junior year, SAS students begin an intensive, 16-week course of SAT preparation in anticipation of the May SAT exam. Classes are taught by professional SAT prep teachers. In the early fall, seniors participate in additional preparation to improve their scores on the October exam.

All SAS students are required to attend approved academic programs over the summer. Philadelphia Futures directly provides rigorous summer study programs in collaboration with partner colleges to expose students to a college environment and enhance core academic skills.

Over the course of each year, SAS students visit at least eight college or university campuses, including some overnight trips, to expose them to a wide variety of institutions – particularly schools where SAS students have been successful.

SAS retains the services of an experienced college counselor to work with each individual student, parent/guardian and mentor, to develop a customized college application strategy and list of prospective schools. The process takes into account the student’s grades, SAT scores, personal preferences, and family financial issues.

Embedded in all of our activities are career awareness and career preparation components that provide students with the hard and soft skills they will need to secure and maintain jobs, and develop careers.

SAS students participate in numerous voluntary enrichment activities, designed to include parents/guardians and mentors whenever appropriate. Activities include Philadelphia Futures’ Book Club and Film Series, Speech and Drama Club, Debate Club, individual tutoring, use of an onsite computer lab, and educational and cultural outings.

Every SAS student/parent/mentor team is assigned an SAS Coordinator who guides them through the Program. Coordinators closely monitor each student’s progress toward academic and personal goals, and troubleshoot problems as they arise. Coordinators have a range of expertise including counseling, college advising, and teaching. Each Coordinator works directly with approximately 40 students.

Launched in 2006, the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) focuses attention and resources on the special needs of urban young men of color living in poverty who are most at risk.