Two students sitting on the grass at college, smiling and looking at a notebook

PEF Partners with Philadelphia Foundation and Lenfest Foundation to Address Barriers to Foster Student Success

By Emma Cohen Westbrooke Posted: May 12, 2021

Youth involved in foster care experience unique challenges and barriers to educational attainment. Approximately 50% of former foster youth will attend college, 8% will graduate, and less than 3% will earn a degree by age 25. We are thrilled to share that Philadelphia Education Fund is partnering with the Philadelphia Foundation and the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation to respond to this unique challenge with Fostering College Readiness (FCR), a three-year college advising and counseling support program for high school age youth in foster care.

Through the FCR partnership, PEF will identify and support candidates for the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation’s Lenfest Immensitas Scholars, a comprehensive scholarship program for youth aging out of foster care at four postsecondary institutions – Penn State University, Harcum College, West Chester University and Penn College of Technology. PEF will assist potential scholarship recipients in preparing for and applying to college and fulfilling any scholarship application requirements.

As part of FCR, PEF will recruit 60 Philadelphia youth in foster care from grades 11 and 12. Through bi-monthly sessions, PEF will provide skill-building workshops, facilitated discussions with similarly-situated students, virtual college visits, dialogues with college representatives, and one-on-one advising on college preparedness topics tailored to this population. PEF will ensure each student has a postsecondary plan that documents their proposed road map from high school graduation through college completion. In addition, PEF will work with the scholarship-holding institutions to smooth the path for the admission of those students.

To support learning and enhance outcomes, PEF will issue a report each year capturing lessons learned, qualitative and quantitative impact, student perspectives, unexpected challenges, surprising wins, and recommendations for future trainings, services, and improvement.