Nonprofit Spotlight: SteppingStone Scholars

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In July, PennyLoafer donors collectively gave to SteppingStone Scholars!

The Rundown

  • Years founded: 1999

  • Leadership: Sean Vereen is a noted thought leader on inequities within the educational system. Under his leadership, SteppingStone has launched several innovative programs and partnerships, growing both its impact and scope.

  • Issue they address: educational and socioeconomic mobility for low-income students in Philadelphia, PA.

  • What they do: creates access to educational and workforce opportunities for talented, underserved students.

  • How they do it:

    • Starting in 5th grade, they provide rigorous learning opportunities to high-achieving, low-income students, creating pathways to college.

    • This includes: placing them in high-performing schools, summer and weekend academic programs, STEM enrichment programs (robotics, computer science), dual enrollment programs, tutoring, academic advising, college prep, paid internships, and college visits.

    • They partner with the Philadelphia School District, local universities, including Penn, Temple and Drexel, and corporations for internships and workforce development opportunities.

Why they were chosen

SteppingStone Scholars has been at the forefront of fighting education inequities for years, creating “pathways” to college and the workforce for students in Philadelphia’s public school system. Their multi-faceted approach provides long term support (starting at age 10 through college) and eliminates many of the barriers that impact low-income students, particularly Black and Brown students, from reaching their potential.

  • They serve 2,500 students annually, with 90% enrolling in college.
  • Their strategic partnerships increase the opportunities offered to scholars in their program (ex: a first-of-its-kind STEM Equity Lab with Penn Engineering).

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🔔 The need in Philadelphia

  • Among the 10 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate and the lowest percentage of its citizens holding a college degree.
  • Fewer than 10% of students in the School District of Philadelphia complete college six years after their high school graduation. That is less than 1,500 students of the 15,000 students who begin 9th grade in the public school system every year.

🤝 SteppingStone Scholars to merge with Futures

In the fall, SteppingStone will merge with another fiscally strong Philly nonprofit, Futures (helps low-income students with admission and success in college), to scale the size and scope of programs.

The new entity will be the preeminent organization in the city partnering with schools, colleges, and businesses to realize its vision that “all Philadelphia students graduate high school with pathways to economic mobility through college and workforce success.”

If you enjoyed this and want to get involved, you can support the Quality Education cause on PennyLoafer, starting with as little as $5/month. Each month, you’ll support and learn about a different nonprofit working to improve the education system.