Philadelphia Futures Highlighted in Benchmarking Case Study Series

February 14, 2017

By Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation

The Benchmarking Project is an important collaboration between NCAN, our members, and the National Student Clearinghouse that examines college access and success programs’ collective success in helping students to enroll in and complete at postsecondary institutions. Three rounds of the project are complete, and a fourth is in progress. To date, the project has found evidence that students served by NCAN members enroll at rates exceeding those of students from low-income high schools and more closely resembling those from higher-income high schools. The Benchmarking Reports have also found that member-served students complete at rates exceeding their low-income peers and approaching the national average.

In addition to these important quantitative findings, the Benchmarking Report series also assists with identifying high-performing programs from which other NCAN members may be able to learn important lessons and strategies. Today, NCAN releases the first in a series of four case studies that profile programs participating in the Benchmarking Project. Ann Coles, senior fellow at uAspire, conducted these case studies, which included extensive interviews with program staff, leadership, partners, and students. She also reviewed key program documents and processes.

This first case study considers Philadelphia Futures, an NCAN member serving 600 high school and college students directly on an annual basis and 40,000 through outreach efforts. Coles describes Philadelphia Futures’ outcomes: “Over 98 percent of the students enroll in college right after high school. While only 10 percent of Philadelphia high school graduates earn college degrees, Philadelphia Futures’ overall college graduation rate is 60 percent. The graduation rate has risen dramatically over the past decade, resulting in a projected graduation rate of 70 percent for the high school classes of 2005-2012.”

Philadelphia Futures’ data-driven decision-making, along with its peer-to-peer support, college admissions marathon, collegiate partnerships, and scholarship provision are all highlighted by this case study, which was made possible through the Common Measures Learning Community project.

Each case study in this series will provide an organization overview and then consider staffing, organizational culture, the policies and practices contributing to student success, and the prospects for replication in whole or part. Members are encouraged to see if there are resonant aspects of each of the profiled programs that may be adaptable to their own practice.

These case studies will be released monthly from now until May, when the results from the fourth round of the Benchmarking Project will be released.

NCAN is grateful for the participation of the case studies’ subjects as well as for the guidance and expertise from Coles.

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