Philadelphia Futures was founded in 1989 to assist public school students to stay in school, excel in their studies and pursue college and careers. The organization currently operates as an affiliate of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, which is a civic, business and community organization with a long history and solid record of promoting racial understanding and advancing opportunities for minorities. Philadelphia Futures created the Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) program to provide constructive educational environments for students. More than 80% of SAS students are African American, 10% are Hispanic, and about 5% are Asian American and white.
Sponsor-A-Scholar is Philadelphia Future's centerpiece program. The program matches at-risk youth with mentors who provide one-on-one long-term mentoring for five years, beginning in the ninth grade. Participants must be economically disadvantaged, at a middle level of academic achievement, and exhibit motivation as well as have an interest in attending college. Mentors and students meet monthly, and keep in frequent phone contact between visits. Mentors also monitor students' academic progress, help with financial aid and college applications, and stay in contact with the SAS staff. Because SAS recognizes that mentoring alone cannot provide everything to at-risk students, students participate in academic enrichment activities including summer travel, campus programs, cultural events and career exploration workshops. They also participate in a complete program of college preparatory activities including SAT workshops, campus visits and financial aid seminars. Each student who completes the program requirements and is enrolled in college has access to a $6,000 fund for college-related expenses. Financial sponsors include individuals, businesses, private organizations, public agencies, religious and higher education institutions. Currently, 12 communities have adopted the SAS model with information and technical assistance provided by Philadelphia Futures.
About 450 students and adults have participated in the program. To date, 92% of SAS seniors entered college immediately after graduation from high school; 86% of those students also began their sophomore year. In 1994, SAS was honored by President Clinton with a Volunteer Action Award. For additional information, look at the Website, www.libertynet.org/~sasphila.