Philadelphia Futures has officially merged with White-Williams Scholars.
The move translates into good news for college-bound freshmen at comprehensive high schools such as Martin Luther King and Germantown, both in Northwest Philadelphia. The merger also allows average students who show academic promise to get the financial, tutorial and other resources they need from 9th grade to completion of their undergraduate degree.
The program is currently seeking more 9th-graders from low-income, and particularly first-generation-to-college, families. They can join the ranks of Horace Furness High School senior Brianna Williams and Lenfest Scholar Antoinette Barnes, who will graduate from Temple University in June.
Philadelphia Future’s director Joan Mazzotti hopes more African-American families take advantage of the program.
“Many people don’t realize that those who come from families where no one went to college are unfamiliar with the whole cultural experience,” she said. “We are not necessarily looking for ‘A’ students either, because they are often directed (to resources). We are trying to identify those who may be struggling a bit but who wants to succeed and their families are willing to help them to do so.”
The scholars program will help high school students navigate the college selection and application process. They will assist the student academically while in high school and take them on college tours as they select their majors. They will also be provided with mentors along their secondary school to university journeys.
Yet the program offers much more. In college the student will receive a full-tuition scholarship, fully paid room and board, and even a $5,000 a year stipend to pay for books, travel expenses and incidentals. The mentor will continue to be in each student’s life until the walk down the commencement aisle to receive a bachelor’s degree.
“It has been a good experience being in the program,” said Barnes, whose mentor is Susan Tabor. “I’ve met people and networked with others who I would have never met. My mentor helped me through the whole process and still checks in with me monthly. I’ve learned everything from time management to how to study. It’s a great program.”
Williams agreed. A member of her school’s cheerleading squad, Williams works closely with her mentor Melissa Englund in applying to college. She has her sights set on either Dickinson College or Drexel University as she aspires to be an obstetrician.
“This is a helpful program that helped me reach my goals,” Williams said. “Last June I was able to tour Dickinson and have an overnight visit. I’m learning just what it takes to get organized to succeed in college. They’ve even helped me overcome peer pressure. Without this program that would have been so stressful.”
For more information about becoming a Philadelphia Futures scholar visit philadelphiafutures.org or follow the group on Twitter at http://twitter.com/phillyfutures.