Innovative Large-Scale Program Designed to Increase College Completion Among Up To 100 Philadelphians Annually
Philadelphia Foundation Media Contact:
Melissa Fordyce; Mfordyce@philafound.org or 856-430-4661
PHILADELPHIA, PA – (4/29/2021) – The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation and Philadelphia Foundation are launching the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program for youth in foster care and aging out of foster care, an innovative large-scale initiative designed to increase college graduation among up to 100 Philadelphians annually. Immensitas (pronounced immense-it-tas) is Latin for “boundless” and signifies the unlimited potential of every youth, as well as the life opportunities available to those with a college degree.
Under Pennsylvania’s Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, tuition and fees for undergraduate degrees at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are waived for youth in foster care to reduce financial barriers.
The $1.8 million Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program will cover room, board and expenses such as books, computers, essentials for dorm living, while simultaneously leveraging an extensive support system for participants. Supports will include academic advising, a summer bridge program, housing and meals during school breaks, financial and money management guidance and a designated liaison at each school.
“I believe that education can make all men and women equal regardless of what neighborhood they are from or what their economic start in life was like,” said Brook Lenfest. “Through education, anyone can broaden their horizons and enrich their outlook on life and pursue any career path that exists. Through that freedom, they can find fulfillment, economic security and, ultimately, a happy life.”
“Unfortunately, access to educational opportunity is not equal across all neighborhoods and households. These scholarships are a small way to try and even the scales of opportunity,” he added.
“I know the recipients will make themselves proud and in turn, make me proud by achieving at a high level and I hope their example will encourage others to join this effort with their support.”
Approximately 250 Philadelphia youth annually age out of foster care beginning at age 18. It is estimated that only 3% of former foster youth who enroll in college will graduate.
“Philadelphia Foundation believes in the critical role of education in shaping and preparing future leaders,” said Pedro Ramos, President and CEO of Philadelphia Foundation. “As long-time funders of both educational opportunities and vulnerable populations, we are proud to partner with the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation on this important initiative and look forward to bringing it to scale.”
The largest component of the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program is a two-year pathway to an associate degree at Harcum College for 80 students annually through a partnership with I-Lead’s ACE (Achieve College Education) program. Under the Harcum/I-Lead partnership, two community-based locations will provide services to support participants in completing their degrees. Delta Community Supports, Inc. in Glenside is the first of two locations. The second site is being developed with Project Home.
Twenty scholars will also be funded, annually, at three additional colleges:
- Five scholars at Penn State University’s main campus
- Five scholars at West Chester University
- Ten scholars at Penn College of Technology, which offers associate degrees.
To be eligible for the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program, the applicant must have been served by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services at any time since age 16, earned a high school degree or GED and must qualify under the Chafee federal grant program for foster care participants.
Contact the designated representatives listed below to learn more about how to apply.
Penn College of Technology
(570) 320-2400, ext. 7841
SASC, Room 1047A
Cheri L. McConnell
Education Coordinator, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network
Coach/PSU Point of Contact, Fostering Lions Program
West Chester University
Deputy Director of Financial Aid
Harcum College/I-LEAD/ACE Program
About the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation is a charitable foundation established by Brook J. Lenfest in 2000, whose trustees include Brook, his wife Anna and his mother Marguerite. It is dedicated to making people aware of positive life choices and providing support and opportunities for those motivated to pursue them. Its grants focus mainly on education, job training and mentoring programs.
Philadelphia Foundation provides administrative and management support services for the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation. It receives grant applications and distributes grants approved by the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation Board of Directors.
About Philadelphia Foundation
Founded in 1918, Philadelphia Foundation strengthens the economic, social and civic vitality of Greater Philadelphia. Philadelphia Foundation grows effective philanthropic investment, connects individuals and institutions across sectors and geography, and advances civic initiatives through partnerships and collaboration. A publicly supported foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation manages more than 1,000 charitable funds established by its donors and makes over 1,000 grants and scholarship awards each year. To learn more visit www.philafound.org.