Heights is hiring for Summer 2024! Learn more about opportunities to join our team. 

Setting the stage for long-term student success


Unlock doors to acceptance ⎯ and success ⎯ at Philadelphia’s top independent schools with Heights. Stretching from the summer after fourth grade until college, our Steppingstone Academy provides rigorous learning opportunities to high-performing students who face socioeconomic challenges.

Established in 1999, the Steppingstone Academy cements long-term relationships with each student, focusing on college placement and graduation. Our experienced advisors work closely with participants and their families to help them select and apply to the best fitting independent schools. Families may also receive financial aid to meet their demonstrated needs.

Comprehensive support until college and beyond

  • Saturday classes for fifth and eighth graders
  • Summer program 
  • Individualized support from advisors and tutors
  • College and career exposure
  • Support for subjects including math, English Language Arts, science, coding, and electives
  • Career exposure
  • Advisory groups
  • Standardized test prep
  • SAT prep classes
  • Individualized college access advising
  • Academic advising support
  • College readiness workshops for students and families
  • Community service opportunities
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Social-emotional programming
  • Tutor support
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Dual enrollment
  • Internship opportunities
  • STEM (BLI)
  • High School summer bridge program for seniors entering college in the fall
Heights' Steppingstone Academy student

Academy 6: Prep & Placement

Steppingstone Academy begins with Academy 6 Prep & Placement, our program for rising fifth graders and their families. Heights staff guides student families through independent schools’ admissions processes including:

  • Applications
  • Interviews
  • Tuition assistance rewards
  • Consultations for selecting independent schools
  • Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE)

Admitted students are enrolled in their first four-week summer session. Scholars attend classes five days a week, studying:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • ELA
  • Study skills
  • ISEE test prep

Beginning in late September, students attend Saturday classes with a concentration on:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Tutoring
  • Academic advising

Scholars enroll in a second four-week summer session to continue their academic classes and prepare for their transition into their selected school.

Our admissions process

Steppingstone Academy welcomes applications from students who meet the following criteria:

  • A resident of Philadelphia
  • Currently rising to the fifth grade
  • A and B grade student
  • Academically motivated, curious learner

To apply, we encourage families to follow these steps:

  • 01

    Attend a family informational session to learn more about our programs, application process, and partnerships

  • 02

    Submit an online application by April 1st. Our application portal can be accessed by clicking the link below. Completed applications should include the following:

    • Parent/guardian applications
    • Third- and fourth-grade report cards with teachers’ comments
    • Most recent Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test scores
  • 03

    Interview with a Steppingstone Academy staff member. We will contact all qualified applicants to schedule parent/guardian and student interviews after receiving parent/guardian applications.

  • 04

    Receive decision notification

    • Admitted students will be notified by May
    • Participating students will be enrolled in their first six-week summer session
    • Student families will receive an invitation to our new families orientation event

Anaya Cherry

The Episcopal Academy ‘18 | Drexel University ‘22, Bachelor of Science in Entertainment and Arts Management

“Having the backing of a program like Steppingstone helped me get into Episcopal Academy, where I thrived as a student leader, and gave me the resources to make important decisions about my college career.”

Julian Marmolejos

Holy Child School at Rosemont

“With the assistance and guidance from Steppingstone Academy, I am the master of my own fate.”

Start your journey with Steppingstone Academy

Reach out to one of our team members or submit your application today.