Heights Graduation Celebration Honored 500+ Students 

Heights Philadelphia Unveils 2024 – 2029 Strategic Plan Aimed to Transform Education & Empower Communities in Philadelphia

Launching the “Accelerating Economic Mobility & Educational Opportunity” plan, the economic mobility catalyst will work to overcome systemic hurdles and expand services to 5,000 students in Philadelphia by 2029

Heights Philadelphia (“Heights”) announced its comprehensive strategic plan through 2029 titled, “Accelerating Economic Mobility & Educational Opportunity,” serving as a blueprint to expand services from 3,000+ to 5,000 students by 2029. The economic mobility catalyst’s plan reflects its deep and abiding commitment to break the cycle of generational poverty in Philadelphia by creating pathways to educational and workforce success for low-income, Black and Brown, and first-generation-to-college students.

“Education is one of this administration’s top priorities to make Philadelphia a better place for all,” said Shania Bennett, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement. “Philadelphia students deserve schools and opportunities that will help them achieve their dreams, and it is organizations like Heights that help our students reach their fullest potential. Thank you to the work of Heights Philadelphia for helping students think bigger and aim higher to achieve their goals of college and careers.”

“We need to work collectively to improve the city and this work starts by  investing in our young people in Philadelphia,” said Sara L. Woods, Esq., co-president, Heights Philadelphia. “With our ‘Accelerating Economic Mobility & Educational Opportunity’ plan, we are creating pathways to a more equitable and prosperous city.  We need to see graduation rates from both high school and college increase. We need to create affordable access to college where a student can graduate with an associates degree or a bachelor’s degree on time and with minimal debt.  Most importantly, we need to help students secure full-time, highly skilled jobs with benefits and a living wage.”

“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,” emphasized Sean E. Vereen, Ed.D., co-president of Heights Philadelphia. “By 2029, Heights’ plan will help change the broken systems that have limited education and career outcomes in our City and build on our pathways to economic mobility for our youth. Our city is in a time of crisis and transformation. We must show with our actions and investments that we believe in and care about our communities – and it starts with our love for young people.  We believe, just as they have a right to vote, the right to speak out, they have a right to use their talents to achieve economic opportunity and mobility. ”

In December 2022, former education nonprofits Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars merged to create Heights Philadelphia to better support more than 3,000 students – especially Black, Brown and first-generation-to-college scholars – in Philadelphia working to achieve their goals of college and career success. Following its first year of operation, Heights’ “Accelerating Economic Mobility & Educational Opportunity” plan serves as its guide and vision through 2029.

A new kind of organization – an economic mobility catalyst – Heights outlines three key focuses serving as the organizations’ foundation of its vision for a more equitable and prosperous Philadelphia:

1. Building Pathways to College and Career

    • Heights aims to create pathways to college and career for 5,000 students by 2029, facilitating economic mobility within six years of high school graduation through education, internships, and training. It will achieve this by:
      • Aligning Programs to Impact: Heights will create a seamless program from middle school through career, based on research and evaluation, that is aligned to impact.
      • Defining Industry Pathways: Heights will define and implement the essential program components for key industry pathways.
      • Developing and Leveraging Partnerships: Heights will implement a partnership plan that accelerates students’ trajectories towards economic mobility.

2. Changing Systems

    • Height seeks to overhaul systems that have historically limited education and career outcomes for our students. It will achieve this by:
      • Developing a Foundation: Heights will define systems in which it can push for change that accelerates youth toward educational opportunity and economic mobility.
      • Growing Partnerships for Change at the System Level: Heights will establish partnerships with the School District of Philadelphia, post-secondary partners, and industry leaders that advance opportunities and equity for young people in Philadelphia.
      • Collaborating for Change with Communities: Heights will create coalitions of partners to expand and empower community-based advocacy efforts.
      • Measuring and Sharing our Impact: Heights will measure collective efforts that support system change and pathways to system improvement, and keep community members, students, alumni, and others within local systems informed of progress and the potential of system change.

3. Creating a Sustainable Organizational Model

    • By 2029, Heights will have a sustainable financial and operational model to achieve its vision of city-wide impact at scale.Heights will achieve this by:
      • Financial Stewardship: Heights will implement a funding strategy driven by a business plan that increases revenue growth and manages expenses to sustainably scale programming.
      • Optimizing Operations for Scale: Heights will build an operational model that enables it to do its best work, at scale.
      • Becoming a “Best of” Employer: Heights will invest in building an engaged, supported, and developed staff to deliver high-impact services to our students.
      • Being a Learning Organization: Heights will create an organizational culture of reflection, adaptation, and data-informed decision making to increase impact for students.
      • Engaging Community: Heights will inform, engage with, and influence key organizational constituencies to compel action that will further our vision.

For more information about Heights Philadelphia and its “Accelerating Economic Mobility & Educational Opportunity” strategic plan,  click here.