About 600 students will receive coaching on post-secondary education plans

PHILADELPHIA – Promise Corps and the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND) today announced a partnership to support about 600 low-income high school students with post-secondary education planning.

The partnership pairs students from four West Philadelphia high schools with 20 Promise Corps College and Career Coaches who will offer peer coaching, mentoring, and academic support. The Coaches, who are hired as AmeriCorps members, are responsible for helping the students in grades 10 to 12 set and accomplish at least one post-secondary goal during this school year. Of the entire cohort, 200 students are seniors who are expected to graduate on time and matriculate into their desired post-secondary plan, with 100 students entering degree-granting programs next fall.

Promise Corps, an AmeriCorps organization managed locally by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO), will receive roughly $170,000 for the program. The funding was secured by PHENND through a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as part of their own Next Steps AmeriCorps program. Next Steps works with low-income college students to improve their persistence and degree completion.

“We are thrilled to align ourselves with partners who care so deeply about higher education and civic engagement,” said Mitchell Little, executive director of CEO. “It will not only enable us to continue a program we successfully launched three years ago but also provide more robust supports for our students after they graduate high school to ensure they achieve their goals.”

“Our partnership with Promise Corps is really a win-win,” said Hillary Kane, director of PHENND. “Promise Corps helps get students into college but doesn’t have the ability to follow them through that journey. Next Steps can follow them and support them while in college, but we needed better recruitment pipelines to identify students for our program. This partnership really speaks to both of our programs’ strengths and challenges.”

The four selected high schools — West Philadelphia, Sayre, School of the Future, and Overbrook — draw students from the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. Each school has a poverty rate of 100 percent and an average high school graduation rate of only 64 percent. With the School District of Philadelphia starting the year remotely due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Promise Corps coaches will interact with students remotely, an adaptation they are able to build on from their experience this spring.

“While the pandemic has forced us to go remote to start the year, our AmeriCorps coaches are extremely excited and energized about really leaning in to support their peers,” Little said. “We look forward to a great year and making a difference in the lives of students and their families.”

About the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO)
CEO provides leadership on issues of economic justice by advancing racial equity and inclusive growth to ensure that all Philadelphians might share in the city’s prosperous future. It serves as the Community Action Agency (CAA) for the City of Philadelphia. As a CAA, CEO awards Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to more than 20 programs that serve an estimated 40,000 residents each year, with a focus on benefits access, financial empowerment, housing security, and other priorities that may emerge over time.

PHENND, the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development, is a network of over 25 colleges and universities that strengthens service-learning, civic engagement, and community partnership in Philadelphia, connecting academics with community involvement. PHENND is housed at the University of Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. PHENND has managed the Next Steps AmeriCorps Program since 2014.