Fostering College Readiness

WHAT WE DO

​An initiative of the Philadelphia Education Fund and the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation, Fostering College Readiness helps students, who are or were in foster or kinship care, apply to and succeed in college.

2 students in blue caps and gowns toss caps in air.
Students' graduation caps very decorated in a view from behind.

Who We Serve

The Fostering College Readiness program targets current high school students who are experiencing or who have experienced foster care through the Philadelphia Department of Human Services at any point after their 16th birthday.

High school graduates or GED-holders also may be served by the program, although their educational support services may differ in nature from the high school-aged cohort.

 


Get in Touch

Madeline Birkner
Senior Manager, Persistence and College Partnerships
mbirkner@philaedfund.org

Follow us on Instagram @fosteringPEF!

What We Offer

  • Personalized college counseling
  • 1-on-1 financial aid help
  • Skill-building workshops
  • Access to the Lenfest Immensitas Scholarship for college room and board
  • College transition support

During 2021-22, counseling sessions and workshops will be both in-person and virtual. As pandemic-related restrictions are relaxed, we’ll hold other enrichment opportunities such as campus visits, expert speaker series, and hands-on career exploration.

Counselor, Student & Educator Resources

Fostering College Readiness program tri-fold

Fostering College Readiness program one-page

Penn State University Park FCR Flyer

Pennsylvania College of Technology FCR Flyer

West Chester University FCR flyer

Graduation mortarboard with decorations and words "She's on her way."

PROGRAM FAQs

How are Fostering College Readiness and the Lenfest Immensitas Scholarship connected?

The Lenfest Immensitas Scholarship is a new scholarship fund exclusively designed to assist foster youth with non-tuition expenses (such as room and board) at three partner colleges. It bridges the gap between federal and state financial aid programs and the student’s true cost to live and learn on campus. The Immensitas program also provides programmatic funding to support a Philadelphia-based college degree option for students who do not wish to live on campus. Fostering College Readiness is a pre-college preparatory pipeline to the Immensitas Scholarship program. Our goal is to prepare students so they can successfully take advantage of Immensitas funding at one of the partner programs.

Who is eligible to participate?

The Fostering College Readiness program targets current high school students who are experiencing or who have experienced foster care through the Philadelphia Department of Human Services at any point after their 16th birthday. High school graduates or GED-holders can still be served by the program, although their educational support services may differ in nature from the high school-aged cohort.

I’m not in high school any more. Do I still qualify?

Maybe! Eligibility criteria for the program is tied to eligibility for PHEAA’s Chafee Grant, with some possible additional requirements depending on your selected college program. If you are under the age of 25, were served by Philadelphia DHS after your 16th birthday, and will be a first-time college student, you may still qualify. Contact us to learn more!

How do I apply?

Click here to access our secure online application. Please note that a guardian signature is required for youth who are not yet 18 years old.
Don’t forget to also fill out this form requesting copies of your academic records (transcript, report card, etc.) to be shared by your high school with our program staff.

I want to attend college outside of the city. What are the campus-based college partners?

There are three options for campus-based learning. Click the link to learn more about the admissions process for each partner institution.

Campus-Based College Flyer 

I don’t want to leave Philly for college. How do I learn more about the Philadelphia-based college option?

Fostering College Readiness participants can earn cost-free Associate’s Degrees through a Philadelphia-based program called Achieve College Education/I-LEAD. Though college credits are awarded by Harcum College, classes are conveniently held in the evenings at a number of community sites across Philadelphia. This is a great option for students who need to balance full-time employment with college.
Click here to directly connect with Harcum’s ACE/I-LEAD program for foster youth.

Am I guaranteed to get admitted to a partner college?

No. Each partner college that you apply to will evaluate your application according to its own standards for admission. However, Harcum College and Pennsylvania College of Technology are open enrollment institutions, so acceptance is not hugely dependent on your grades from high school.

If you are interested in applying to one or more of the partner colleges, you should have a consultation with your Fostering College Readiness counselor to discuss your academic, social, and financial fit.

Do I have to attend one of the partner colleges?

No. If you are a high school student, you are encouraged to take advantage of Fostering College Readiness college prep programming in order to be prepared to take the next step after high school. If you decide that another college is a better fit for you academically, socially, and financially, you are not obligated to enroll in a partner college. However, the Immensitas Scholarship is available only at the three campus partners, so you may need to find other sources of funding if you experience a financial aid gap at your chosen college.

How do I maintain the Immensitas Scholarship?

The Immensitas Scholarship can cover non-tuition expenses each year you’re in college, so long as you are enrolled at least half-time, you maintain “Satisfactory Academic Progress,” and you submit an updated FAFSA each year. Satisfactory Academic Progress is defined differently at each college but usually means earning a minimum 2.0 GPA and passing 2/3 of the credits that you attempted to earn.

I am an adult professional who works with system-involved youth. How can I refer eligible youth to this program?

Firstly, thank you for the work you do to support and advocate for foster youth! We are thrilled that you would like to connect eligible young people to this opportunity. You can do so in several ways:

  • Share the links to our online application and support youth through the submission of the two required forms
  • Request a Zoom info session with program manager, Madeline Birkner, by emailing mbirkner@philaedfund.org
  • Request a materials drop (flyers, pamphlets, paper application packets) or in-person consultation session with program manager, Madeline Birkner, by emailing mbirkner@philaedfund.org
  • Share this information within your professional networks
  • Share this information with adult supporters of the foster youth in your orbit, such as foster parents, high school counselors, legal advocates, and more.
Who can I contact to learn more?

Please reach out to Madeline Birkner, Senior Manager for Persistence and College Partnerships. She can be reached at mbirkner@philaed.fund.org and would love to hear from you. You can also send a direct message to our Instagram account for a quick question: @fosteringPEF.

Youth involved in foster care experience unique challenges to educational attainment. Approximately 50% will attend college, 8% will graduate, and less than 3% will earn a degree by age 25.