It's Graduation Season: Changing Futures in Philadelphia

June 18, 2014
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By Holly Mantle
Director of Communications, Philadelphia Futures

On June 5, the Philadelphia Futures community convened for the organization’s 2014 Graduation Celebration, honoring the high school and college graduations of 92 students – all low-income, first-generation-to-college – who have participated in Philadelphia Futures’ Programs. The event was attended by nearly 400 students, family members, mentors, supporters and partners and was a commemoration of a powerful and successful year. 

The theme for the evening focused on the power of legendary superheroes and how, every day, Philadelphia Futures’ community also exhibits superpowers. Joan C. Mazzotti, Executive Director, Philadelphia Futures reflected on this during her opening remarks. 

“Like many superheroes, we all have villains to defeat and destinies of greatness,” said Ms. Mazzotti. “I applaud our students and everyone in this room for using your formidable powers to defeat the one villain that we confront daily – our society’s failure to educate all students equally. We have looked that villain in the eye and together we have prevailed.” 

In an academic year during which the School District of Philadelphia experienced an unprecedented budget crisis, high school seniors in Philadelphia Futures’ Sponsor-A-Scholar Program succeeded despite circumstances that would have predicted otherwise. One hundred percent of the High School Class of 2014 – 43 students in total – graduated from high school and have been accepted to college. They will attend a range of institutions, including Arcadia, Bloomsburg, Community College of Philadelphia, Dickinson, Drexel, Gettysburg, Haverford, Lafayette, Temple, Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.

In addition, 49 Philadelphia Futures students will earn their college degrees in 2014. Fifty-four percent of the Sponsor-A-Scholar High School Class of 2010 will earn their college degrees in four years. The potential six-year college graduation rate for this Class is an extraordinary 87%. 

Five scholarships – totaling $37,000 – were presented to Sponsor-A-Scholar high school seniors who will be attending college in the fall. This money was made available through supporters of Philadelphia Futures. These surprise announcements created many dramatic moments. 

The Graduation Celebration also included the presentations of the 2014 Philadelphia Futures “Hats Off to You” Awards – an honor annually given to individuals, institutions and corporations for their sustained commitment to the mission of Philadelphia Futures. This year’s winners were Delaware Investments; David O’Connor, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Delaware Investments and Treasurer of the Philadelphia Futures Board of Directors and Dr. Jonathan A. Scott, Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the Honors Program, Temple University Fox School of Business. 

Additional accomplishments that were acknowledged on June 5 included: 

  • 42% of high school graduates will attend a Philadelphia Futures partner college and have received full-need financial packages; 
  • 15 students earned college degrees from partner colleges; and 
  • One student from the Sponsor-A-Scholar Class of 2007 earned a Master of Divinity degree.

Philadelphia Futures was honored to celebrate the graduations of nearly 100 students this year, who truly demonstrate what is possible when low-income, first-generation-to-college students are provided with tools, resources and opportunities they need to achieve college success.

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