Philadelphia education non-profit calls on next Mayor to put students first to better city with four key requests.
Heights Philadelphia (Heights) today announced its 2023 Mayoral Policy Platform calling on the next Mayor of Philadelphia to put the city’s students first with four key calls to action. A leading education non-profit that works with Black, Brown and first-generation students to create pathways to college and career success, Heights’ Policy Platform is rooted in the organization’s deep and abiding commitment to break the cycle of generational poverty – which has long challenged the City of Philadelphia – and a vision of a city where all students have a path to educational and economic success.
“Our students matter. Votes for education and access matter,” said Sara L. Woods, Esq., co-president, Heights. “We must show with our actions and with our investment that we love and care about young people. These young people are the future of our city, and we know that a city that creates opportunity for them will be a city that creates opportunity for all.”
“Philadelphia has been widely known as America’s poorest big city with a poverty rate of over 20 percent for the last half century,” said Sean E. Vereen, Ed.D., co-president, Heights. “We will change this narrative if we invest in our youth. This is about thinking bigger and doing better for our students. The next Mayor – the 100th Mayor of the City of Philadelphia – needs to ask all of us: will you put our students first to make a better city for all?”
In the City of Philadelphia, approximately 15% of students who enter 9th grade in the School District of Philadelphia graduate college within 10 years. The city has a higher school dropout rate compared to state and national averages. In West Philadelphia, where biotech startups and “eds and meds” in University City have created 70,000 jobs, 50% of adults make less than $35,000. North Philadelphia has an employment rate of 43%, and 57% of those employed are working in low skilled jobs.
To put students first and create a better Philadelphia, Heights’ 2023 Mayoral Platform calls on the next Mayor of Philadelphia to do the following:
- Expand student support systems in schools. The city, nonprofits, state, and communities need to
invest with the District to lower its ratio of one counselor for every 600+ students. This coalition should
bring a range of support personnel into schools: counselors, enrichment coordinators, academic advisors,
tutors, and mentors who connect with students in and outside the classroom.
- Create a school selection system focused on opportunity for all, not some. Our school selection
process should not be focused on just a few highly sought after schools. Our best schools are not the most selective but the schools that support students from a range of backgrounds. We ask the mayor to (1) support the School District to create a system focused on creating opportunities for low-income students at city-wide, criteria, and neighborhood schools; (2) invest in schools that improve academic and postsecondary outcomes for low-income students; and (3) provide advising and support to make it easier for students and families to find schools that are the right fit for them. A school selection process based on equity means creating a better system that does the most good for as many students as possible.
- Embed career pathways in public schools. The Mayor must convince business, institutions, nonprofits, and corporations to commit funding, build partnerships, develop course work and enrichment programs, and most importantly, hire students from Philadelphia public schools. Expansion of school-based career programs that connect students to coordinated experiences in and outside of the classroom will create pathways to economic success. Career programs should include dual enrollment college courses, professional certifications, mentorship, internship opportunities, and advising for students headed to college or directly into the workforce.
- Bring back the Mayor’s College Scholarship Program for the city. The Mayor should bring
together philanthropic, higher education institutions, state, and city investments to create a citywide
scholarship program that will lower the cost of postsecondary degree attainment. Like the Catto
Scholarship, a city scholarship program supporting Philadelphians at Community College of Philadelphia,
this program would provide both internal support from postsecondary partners and external nonprofit
advising focused on completion and degree attainment.
For more information about Heights Philadelphia and its 2023 Mayoral Policy Platform, please visit Heights.org