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Philadelphia Needs a Path to Educational Equality for All Children

The economic and racial segregation of schools, colleges, and quality academic enrichment leaves a growing number of students educationally underserved. That reality means that their paths to the great benefits of college completion and the workforce are too narrow or outright broken. In Philadelphia out of 15,000 students who start 9th grade only 1,300 (less then 10%) will graduate college a decade later.  In some neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia unemployment rates are higher then they were in the Great Depression. Even when we look at the highest echelons of American education: the Ivy League Plus Group of Universities (Ivy League + Stanford and MIT) there are more low-income students and African American students at the Community College of Philadelphia even though it serves 18,000 students vs. Ivy Plus’s 72,000. In all of the Ivy Plus Universities there are only 5,000 African Americans.

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Creating Pathways to College and Workforce Skills

Steppingstone Scholars is dedicated to addressing educational inequality by creating pathways to educational opportunities that lead to college completion and our Scholars successfully gaining the skills they need for success in the workforce.

Pathway 1: The Steppingstone Academy (TSA) Low-Income High Achievers to High Quality Schools & Universities

Our Goal: Help to designate the pathway to high quality schools and universities for our Scholars. The TSA is our 17 year-old and signature program. Serving cohorts of rising 5th graders and follows them through college acceptance. This program provides summer classes, support during the school year, a blended learning initiative in partnership with Penn Engineering, and support services such as school and college placement, and advising and school visits.

Pathway 2:  Middle Grades Academy (MGA) and Upward Bound Neighborhood K-12 Pipeline to College and the Workforce

Our Goal: Build college and workforce services from K-12 in schools and neighborhoods where the college and workforce pipeline is broken.   The second pathway is a neighborhood K-12 pipeline to college and the workforce. The first part of the pipeline is the Middle Grades Academy which takes place in our partner Philadelphia public schools. These programs include the STEAM in/after-school & summer program that is open to all students in 3rd-8th grade; the Scholars program, a selective math focused program for students in 4th-8th grade; and High School Choice Mentorship, a high school selection support serving all students in 7th & 8th grade. The high school component of the pipeline utilizes Upward Bound, an academic enrichment program that occurs during the school year and the summer in partnership with Temple’s College of Education.


Pathway 3: Large Scale College Access Pipeline Services and Blended Learning Initiative Innovation for Educationally Underserved Students

Our Goal: Utilize unique partnerships and technology to improve our programs, practices and broadly impact students in Philadelphia and beyond.   We use the power of research and the application of the knowledge it produces to solve difficult and complex problems in a range of fields: medicine, technology, and business. But when it comes to the education of low-income students and minority students we see need but no invention. In our innovation work we offer city-wide enrichment programming including an online admissions prep course, a large, two-day college admissions prep fair, a career and technical education and a robotics partnership with Penn Engineering where we are deploying newly designed education robots and developing programming.  


What Makes Us Unique

We are widening the path to college and the workforce by reinventing how an education nonprofit can help children. Steppingstone builds a continuous inventive pipeline of success from elementary through college completion ensuring academic, college, career and personal success.  Essential to that pipeline of services is a host of innovative partnerships with Temple, Drexel, University of Pennsylvania, Vetri Community Association, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many other institutions and nonprofits.


Our Results: Over 17 years we have developed a strong track record of success in Philadelphia:

100% of Scholars from the Class of 2016 graduated from high school, compared to the 64% graduation rate for the School District of Philadelphia;

75% of these Scholars are attending colleges and universities rated Very, Highly, and Most Competitive according to Barron’s.

86% of Scholars are on track or have graduated from 4 year colleges


Steppingstone Scholars facilitates the development of four core values that the organization believes captures the vital qualities of a successful college going student.

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