Our Mission

Steppingstone Scholars is an educational social mobility organization. For low income students in the City of Philadelphia, there are often no clear pathways to college or the workforce. Since 1999, Steppingstone has been working to address this systemic problem by creating not just one pathway, but many.

Our Approach

Serving students ages 10 – 24, Steppingstone offers three solutions-oriented approaches:


Provides transformative, rigorous learning opportunities to high-achieving educationally underserved students to access and succeed at highly resourced schools. Learn More


Leverages custom resources inside public K-12 schools (neighborhood, charter, and citywide) to create pathways to college and the workforce for educationally underserved students. Learn More


Creates broad enrichment programs that innovate the ways schools, nonprofits, and communities can better equitably serve engaged citizens ready to enter college and a changing workforce. Learn More

Strategic Partners

We collaborate with key strategic partners to deliver year-round, integrated programming and workforce opportunities to our Scholars.
University of Pennsylvania
Temple University
Drexel University
The School District of Philadelphia
La Salle University

Systemic Barriers

Among the 10 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate and the lowest percentage of its citizens holding a college degree.

In West Philadelphia, where bio tech startups and “eds and meds” in University City have created 70,000 jobs, 50% of adults make less than $35,000.

In some neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia unemployment rates are higher than in the Great Depression.

Fewer than 10% of the School District of Philadelphia’s students complete college six years after their high school graduation. That is less than 1,500 students of the 15,000 students who begin 9th grade every year.

There are more low-income and African American students at the Community College of Philadelphia than in the Ivy League+ Group of Universities (Ivy League + Stanford and MIT). The Ivy League+ educates 72,000 total students, of which only 5,000 are African American.

Our Goals

These barriers come from institutional practice, disinvestment in communities, and lack of focus of resources and expertise on low-income students and students from racial minority groups. Our current work at Steppingstone aims to deliver real, measurable results. We are working to increase the number of:

We are working to increase the number of:

Academy Scholars attending highly and most selective colleges from 26% to 40% by 2025.

College graduates from the School District of Philadelphia by 10% over the next decade.

Internships and “Enrichmentships” for students by 1,000 in the next 5 years.