Dear Partners, Alumni, Donors, and Friends:

As we celebrate the start of the school year, we are excited to provide an update on the status of our merger and plans for the year ahead.

We are better together
The union of Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars creates one of the most dynamic, expansive, and trusted educational nonprofits in the City of Philadelphia. We believe that as a united organization, we can create a stronger, more equitable Philadelphia, through our bold vision to ensure that all Philadelphia students graduate high school with pathways to economic mobility through college and workforce success.

As of September 1, we have integrated programming for students, and look forward to rebranding as a single entity with a new name, logo, and website following official approvals from the Orphans Court.

Putting our resources and services at students fingertips
Our team has been working tirelessly to expand programming to ensure a robust pathway for students from middle school through college and workforce. In the 2022-23 school year, we have staff located in 23 public schools through District-based partnerships. Programming focuses on creating a college and career culture and supporting critical transition points in students’ educational trajectories to ensure graduation from high school. In addition, we have 23 college partnerships that provide college courses for credit to high school students, scholarship opportunities, and collaboration around student advising and retention efforts to ensure college success. Our career support team is preparing our students for the workforce through career exposure and advising, and by working closely with corporate partners to create internship and credentialing opportunities.

This Back-to-School season coincides with new beginnings for our organization, and we are excited to start this next chapter with our dedicated community of students, families, alumni, partners and donors. We are grateful for your support and we look forward to sharing additional updates in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, please be in touch with us with any questions - we welcome your engagement.

Please enjoy this newsletter and the below video introducing our partnership and commitment to our students as one organization.
Terrick Whitters
Terrick is Philadelphia Futures Class of 2019 scholar who graduated from Central High School and is currently in his fourth year at Albright College majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and minors in Public Policy and Administration. In 2021, Terrick was a part of the pilot launch of the Inveniam Equity Internship program with Steppingstone Scholars. Through summer internships, this program provides critical opportunities, professional access, education, experience, and sponsorship for Black and Brown college students interested in pursuing careers in underrepresented industries, including private equity, investment management, and venture capital. This past summer, he returned to intern with Hirtle Callaghan & Co. Terrick credits his experience with the Inveniam Equity Internship with putting him on the right track for his goals and helping him realize he wants to enter the wealth management field and pursue it as a career.

The Inveniam Equity Internship program was launched as a pilot program in Summer 2021 under Steppingstone’s Inveniam, a first-of-its-kind STEM equity and innovation lab with Penn Engineering. Through summer internships, financial services firms partner with Steppingstone to provide critical opportunities, professional access, education, experience, and sponsorship for Black and Brown college students interested in pursuing careers in underrepresented industries, including private equity, investment management, and venture capital.

"The Inveniam Equity Internship Program is about providing students with opportunities that will spur professional growth and be a real catalyst for economic mobility," said Chris Chaplin, the recently appointed Inveniam Program Director, who brings more than 15 years’ experience as an educator, program manager, and postsecondary advisor to Steppingstone. "With the intense, collegial partnership of Philadelphia-based financial services firms, we can accelerate the expansion of this program by developing new relationships and high-level professional experiences for future internships while also connecting with high school students to highlight financial services as a real pathway for them to pursue.”
Middle School: Summer Programming

Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars hosted the second year of the joint summer bridge program for rising 9th grade students. This partnership specifically served 80 students, and a total of 300 students participated in summer programming at Girard College. The organizations’ joint Summer Bridge program prepares students for the transition to high school. This past summer emphasized teaching time management, study skills, goal setting, and college readiness to prepare students for their high school experience. Students had an opportunity to take math, science, and writing classes, as well as participate in field trips and capstone projects.

“The Futures & Steppingstone collaboration all began two years ago through this Summer Bridge Program, and today we are celebrating the students - the center of our vision - and this program that gave us a sampling of the bigger and better work we can do together,” said Sara Woods, Co-President of PFSS.
High School: STEM Enrichment and Internship Opportunities
Over the past year, we have continued to provide high school students in Philadelphia with cutting-edge STEM enrichment and internship opportunities. 

At the Research & Mentorship program with Temple Engineering, students went through a crash course using SolidWorks - an engineering design software package used heavily in industry. They were involved in the lab's research of novel surgical needles, based on structures of honeybee stingers that are less damaging to tissue than standard surgical needles.

Scholars in the Yuan BioNex Environmental Engineering lab at Temple contributed to the BioNex lab's research by cleaning wastewater and converting the waste products into fertilizer. Others studied and learned how to characterize microplastics.

Students Yailis and Taahzje from Dobbins Career & Technical High School participated in the Fox Chase Cancer Center's TRIP program. Following extensive prep work advancing their knowledge of core biology, chemistry, and math skills, they designed their own investigations. Some examples include 'the impact of opiates and boswelia on particular aspects of health and behavior,' as well as 'isolation and caffeine on anxiety,” which used fruit flies as a model organism.

Students in Steppingstone's PECO program paid it forward as near-peer role models for current high school students. Imani, a student at Temple University, started working as a STEM Ambassador supporting students struggling with algebra.

On Thursday, August 11, Steppingstone Scholars celebrated their students at the High School STEM Research Symposium and Celebration at Temple University.
College Kickoff
Philadelphia Futures celebrated the annual College Kickoff on Thursday, August 11 at Temple University’s Mitten Hall. At this event, first-year college students from low-income and first-generation-to-college backgrounds celebrated their accomplishments and networked with upperclassmen who attend their new schools. Many students in attendance showed their school spirit by wearing their college t-shirt - an amazing visual to help network with other students attending their schools. To introduce current Philadelphia Futures students to Steppingstone Scholars, Co-President of PFSS Sean Vereen offered a powerful keynote speech giving an inside look to his college trajectory and lived experiences. 

“Our annual College Kickoff is the perfect way to jumpstart the new school year and introduce our new merged organization to our students and the community, said Sara Woods, Co-President of PFSS. “Through this merger, we aim to increase pathways and help students prepare for life sustaining careers by giving them the tools they need to persist and graduate from high school, earn a college degree or other postsecondary credential, and ultimately experience the success they deserve.”
Step Up to College Guide
Philadelphia Futures is proud to partner with Steppingstone Scholars this year on the 33rd edition of the Step Up to College Guide. The Guide is annually published and is tailored to students in grades nine through twelve, as well as their families, teachers, and counselors, to help them through each step of the college admissions process.

Thirty-thousand copies of this critical college-going resource are being distributed starting this week to schools and organizations across the city. In addition to the print edition of the Guide, Step Up to College resources, including a digital version of the publication, videos, downloadable worksheets, and more, can be found at
Lenfest $1 Million Gift
Last month, Steppingstone Scholars and Philadelphia Futures celebrated the announcement of a $1 million gift from Lenfest Foundation in support of the upcoming merger. 

“We are so thankful the Lenfest Foundation believes in our joint vision and also shares our abiding love for Philadelphia students," said Sean Vereen, Co-President of PFSS. "It's with partnership and the support of organizations like Lenfest where our new organization will ensure all Philadelphia students graduate high school with pathways to economic mobility through college and workforce success.” 

“We are deeply proud to support the innovative work of Futures and Steppingstone - coming out of this merger - with a $1 million gift that will support the creation of new, more accessible pathways for Black, Brown and first generation college students as well as those who wish to pursue careers after high school, said Dr. Keith Leaphart, Chair of The Lenfest Foundation. "The commitment of Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars to transforming the City of Philadelphia by investing in our youth could not be more wise or more needed at this time.”
Step Up to College Day
We are excited to celebrate the launch of the 33rd edition of the Step Up to College Guide, as well as our merger, at Carver High School on Wednesday September 21. More details to come on our social media! Stay tuned.
PFSS Alumni Happy Hour
Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars alumni are invited to attend a happy hour to meet and mingle with the new PFSS staff and one another. This event will be held on the rooftop at 123 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19109 on October 26 starting at 5pm. More details to follow!
Leadership Team
The new merged organization for Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars is being guided by an incredible team of education leaders, including Chris Avery (VP of K-12 Programming), Chanell Bates (VP of Talent), Christen Johnson (VP of Partnerships), Paige LeGrand (VP of Advancement), Tu-Quyen Nguyen (VP of Operations),and Amy Perez (VP of College Success). We are thrilled to have this amazing group moving this new organization forward.
Summer Recap
Together, we served 1300 students this summer through 17 different programs. Programming ranged from a joint Summer Bridge program at Girard College for rising 9th graders, to computer science and STEM programming at Temple, to our longtime Steppingstone Academy program and Futures’ collegian Summer Institute. Here is a full breakdown of student participation by program, along with program descriptions. This summer was a glimpse at what is possible with the merged organization's breadth and depth of programming focused on student success, access, and support.
New Name & Logo
We are making great strides on the important work of naming and branding our merged organization. FVM, our branding agency, has led us through a comprehensive process, which has included extensive discovery and research, as well as participation from a wide range of community members. We are grateful to the many students and families who have provided helpful guidance in this process. We look forward to unveiling our new name, visual identity, and website to our community in the coming months. In the meantime, we will refer to our joint organization as PFSS until we announce our new name.

Organizational Headquarters
We combined our physical offices on August 22, with our headquarters located at 123 South Broad Street, Suite 850. Steppingstone also maintains space at Temple University through the end of the year. 
We look forward to continuing to update our community in the coming months!