The COVID-19 crisis has illuminated two critical truths in Philadelphia.


The inequalities that define our society – access to healthcare, food security, education, and financial stability – are deeply exacerbated when a public crisis occurs.


In a city where these disparities are so prevalent – and only deepening due to COVID-19 – Steppingstone’s work in building pathways to educational and socioeconomic mobility is more necessary than ever before.

We know from countless studies that a dramatic loss of learning time has a profound impact on students’ access to college and employment.

In March, when schools closed due to the pandemic and many struggled with online learning and student engagement, Steppingstone Scholars acted quickly to meet the needs of our 2,500 Scholars by:


  • Establishing Virtual Academies for our program areas, working at breakneck speed to sustain and enhance a robust online platform. We served over 500 students in programming this summer and offered 5 hours a day of programming.
  • Providing 1:1 personal support for each Scholar, reaching out consistently to ensure our Scholars feel connected and supported.
  • Offering expanded coursework and tutoring sessions during the week as well as on weekends, which have been the only opportunity for many Scholars to receive instruction and tutoring since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
  • Sustaining our supportive and caring community through new online clubs, courses, individualized outreach, and regular video messages from our program leaders.
  • Focusing our Workforce Programs on providing Scholars with hands-on support for resume writing, interview practice and job networking, especially as many of our Scholars’ families navigate layoffs and additional financial hardships.

We continue to be responsive to the real-time needs of our Scholars and their families. One important way in which we are working to support Scholars is by narrowing the digital divide.

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