Philadelphia Futures celebrates 25 years of publishing college guide

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Futures has reached a milestone in its mission to prepare students for college. This year marks the 25th anniversary edition of Step Up to College: Philadelphia’s Guide to the College Preparation, Application, Admissions & Financial Aid Processes.

Since 1989 Philadelphia Futures has annually published this resource, providing it free of charge to thousands of students throughout the city in efforts to help remove any barriers to postsecondary success.

Like previous guides, this year’s publication is designed to lead Philadelphia’s high school students through each stage of the college admissions and financial aid process.

New in the guide’s rollout this year is the Step Up to College Digital Media, which includes a website, a video series, and PowerPoint presentations. These resources target today’s high school students who grew up using the web and are looking to go to college.

"Over the last 25 years, Philadelphia Futures’ Step Up to College has helped a generation of students achieve their dream of a college education and has evolved to meet the needs of Philadelphia’s students," said Joan C. Mazzotti, executive director of Philadelphia Futures, in a statement.

"Step Up to College has grown from a newspaper insert to a 66-page publication, video series, website, text alert system, and Facebook and Twitter pages.”

Today, Philadelphia Futures celebrated the release of the guide with an invitation-only breakfast reception at the organization’s newly expanded offices, emceed by 6ABC anchor Rick Williams.

The new Step Up to College video series also premiered today. Three 20-minute videos — titled Preparing for College, Understanding College Fit, and Applying to College — aim to demystify the college application and admission process. All of the videos and other digital content are accessible on the Step up to College website.

To help publicize the guide and kick off “Step Up to College Week,” Philadelphia Futures will hold a pep rally at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Northeast High School. During the pep rally, students will receive introductions to the new college resources and the instructional video series. Throughout the week, members of the Philadelphia Futures’ staff will distribute print editions of the guide to other Philadelphia public high schools and educate students about the available resources.

Mazzotti said that support from an array of partner organizations allows the organization to distribute more than 45,000 free copies of Step Up to College to every high school in Philadelphia, branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and community-based organizations.

“At a time when resources for Philadelphia’s college-bound students are limited, Philadelphia Futures is committed to providing every student in the city with the tools, resources and information needed for college success,” said Mazzotti.

Shannon Nolan is an intern at the Notebook.