Ed Fund event brings scholarship winners together to get ready for their first year in college

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

The Philadelphia Education Fund hosted its fourth annual First Year Experience event Thursday to help students in its Philadelphia Scholars program prepare for their first year of college.

About 70 students attended the event at Community College of Philadelphia to take part in six interactive seminars focusing on skills the students will need to make it to graduation.

“We want to make sure they get essential tools to not only make it to college, but through college successfully," said Malikah Cliett, Scholars Program manager at the Ed Fund.

The seminars lasted for nearly an hour each and covered topics such as stress management, writing, and setting goals. Afterward, the students received advice from a panel of college students about making the transition from high school to college life. A raffle was also held where students won prizes that included campus essentials, such as comforters and bed sheets.

Jujuan Peel Jr., a recent graduate of Roxborough High School, said the information he received at the event was helpful.

“This [is] information that most won’t hear until they’re a sophomore or junior in college,” said Peel, who will be attending Virginia State University in the fall. “And we’re getting it before we ever step foot on a campus.”

The event was also a celebration for Philadelphia Education Fund’s Last Dollar Scholarship program, through which the Fund gives students renewable scholarships designed to help them cover gaps in their resources and financial aid. The scholarship amounts are $200 to $5,000 per student, and this year the Philadelphia Education Fund has awarded a total of $700,000.

Eligibility is limited to high school seniors who are active in the Philadelphia Education Fund’s College Access Program or attend one of its partner schools. The complete list of schools can be seen here.

Over 27 years, the Scholars Program has awarded more than $14 million to more than 3,200 students. To support the students through college, they are matched with a mentor, on-campus assistance, and workshops during school breaks.

Kimberly Stephens, vice president of post-secondary opportunities at the Ed Fund, said the program is designed to inform students about the resources that are available to them as college students and encourage them to work together.

“Programs like this are critical [in helping them] understand the importance of being prepared and understanding that they’re not alone,” she said.