College Access and Success Ecosystem’s March 6 Working Meeting

College Access and Success Ecosystem’s March 6 Working Meeting

Posted: March 15, 2024

For its second working meeting last week, the College Access and Success Ecosystem (CASE) convened over 60 individuals representing K-12, higher education institutions, community organizations, government officials and industry, to strategize about how to improve high school, college and postsecondary completion rates.

To kick-off the meeting, PEF’s President and CEO Farah Jimenez and City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, helped to frame the challenges of educational attainment within the context of workforce development solutions to meet Philadelphia’s talent pipeline opportunities. Councilmember Thomas outlined the current systemic barriers to entry for industry in Philadelphia, shared a need for college fit across fields of academic interest, and made a call to action around planning toward future jobs in biosciences.


The collective was also honored to have Ali Caccavella, Special Advisor to the Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Postsecondary and Higher Education, with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, share current trends in enrollment and attainment both statewide and in Philadelphia, along with labor market research and trends pointing to the future need for jobs in the business sector, and presented an outline of the PDE’s Blueprint for Higher Education.

Critically, currently PA ranks 49th out of 50 states in postsecondary education affordability. Pennsylvanians acquire an average of $40,000 in undergraduate, federal student debt. The enrollment in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities has decreased by 30% from 2011-2021. If passed, the legislation supporting the PDE Blueprint for Higher Education would create a new state system and funding formula, including increased scholarships for students below the PA median income, ensuring that PASSHE and PA community colleges are the most affordable pathway to a postsecondary credential or degree. The PDE Blueprint for Higher Education legislation and funding initiative also aims to produce an outcome of 50,000 additional credentials by 2032, and 150,000 total additional credentials in the next 8 years, strengthening Pennsylvania’s talent pipeline.

During the breakout session, the three CASE Action Teams (on-time high school graduation, on-time college graduation, and data & evaluation) worked to determine their aims, strategies and metrics for success. Action teams mapped key plans for taking strategic action toward the common agenda of improving graduation rates for all Philadelphia students.

Thank you to Deloitte for graciously hosting us at their offices in 1700 Market, and to the Steering Committee Members, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND)Philadelphia Youth NetworkPhiladelphia College Prep Roundtable, and Philadelphia Education Fund, for their support in planning this meeting.

– NEXT STEPS & UPCOMING MEETINGS: Action Teams will set their own meetings in April, May and June, with the next full ecosystem meeting planned for July.

– HAVE QUESTIONS OR NEED MORE INFO? Contact Ellen Ridyard, Director of Collaboration and Partnerships, Philadelphia Education Fund:

– WANT TO JOIN CASE? Complete the CASE Memorandum of Understanding to become an ecosystem member.

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