An Update to the Philadelphia Futures Community

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Dear Members of the Philadelphia Futures Community,

I wanted to share information about our scholars, our staff, and our business operations as an update to my March 16 letter.  At the outset, however, I hope that this letter finds you healthy, safe, and taking care of yourself and those around you.  

This pandemic is impacting everyone, in ways that could not have been anticipated, and I am grateful for the incredible community that surrounds our students. I continue to be inspired by the kindness of our community. I am also deeply appreciative of the commitment of our staff and the perseverance of our students. I am awed by the selfless efforts of everyone to ensure our students can continue on their journey to and through college.  

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, our plans are necessarily shifting to adapt to those changes. Through it all, however, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our students and to our mission. Here are the adjustments we are making: 

STUDENT SUPPORT:

Our student support has only increased during this time. Our staff conducted outreach to every high school student and collegian over the past three weeks – via email, phone, text, and video chat. A herculean effort, but one that provided significant comfort to our students and their families. We will continue to outreach regularly to our students to support both their socio-emotional and academic needs. 

During these check ins, we identified many emergency needs for students that were preventing them from continuing their academic journeys during the pandemic. Students without access to technology, without housing, and facing food insecurity. I am grateful to the many members of our community who made gifts over the past few weeks that allowed us to address those emergency needs. 

CLASSES and CLUBS:

Philadelphia Futures high school classes will remain online for the rest of the spring semester. Given the most recent updates from health experts, it is still not safe for students to return to our offices. However, our classes continue virtually, and our staff are making sure that students have what they need to succeed not only in our classes, but in high school and in college.  Students are connecting with tutors remotely, and thanks to a member of our community, we are able to offer additional instruction to our juniors studying for the rescheduled SAT exam.   

While we have had to pause several of our clubs, our Financial Literacy club continues and I am grateful to Bill Morrison for his leadership.  

EVENTS and GRADUATION CELEBRATION:

We have elected to transition our events to virtual meetings, where possible, or postpone the event until it is safe for us to gather. This includes our Young Men’s Initiative Career Day (April 28) and our annual fundraiser, Get in the Game (April 19), that we are working with the Phillies to reschedule if possible.   

This also includes our Graduation Celebration, scheduled for June 3, 2020. I know this is particularly difficult for our graduating high school and college seniors and their families to hear that we will not be gathering in person. However, I promise you that on June 3, 2020, we will gather, virtually, as a community to celebrate our scholars. Please stay tuned for details!  

When it is safe to gather, we will honor and celebrate our scholars in person. We are currently exploring ideas and will share those details with you as soon as the plans are finalized.

BUSINESS OPERATIONS:

Philadelphia Futures remains “open” virtually and all employees are working remotely. I am grateful to our amazing staff! While we cannot predict the length of the current crisis or its economic ramifications, it is our plan to weather this crisis together, with our full staff. 

WAYS YOU CAN HELP:

So many people have asked how they can help our students right now. Thank you!  Here are a few concrete suggestions:  

  1. Make an unrestricted gift to Philadelphia Futures so that we can deploy our resources as nimbly as possible: bit.ly/PhillyFuturesDonate
  2. Contribute to our Opportunity Fund, which provides emergency resources to our students now and in the future, to help them achieve their college dreams. Please note “Opportunity Fund” when making your gift: bit.ly/PhillyFuturesDonate
  3. Sponsor a student: Students in our Sponsor-A-Scholar program and our College Connection program receive stipends during college to help with books, transportation, and other needs. Recently, sponsorship funds have helped collegians return home when their colleges closed. Learn more at bit.ly/PFSponsorAStudent
  4. Send a note or a video to our scholars, telling them how much they matter and encouraging them to persevere in their academic journey. If you are not connected to a particular student at the moment, please send notes to my attention at the Philadelphia Futures office and videos to my email address (sarawoods@philadelphiafutures.org).   Our team will make sure they are delivered to our scholars.     

During this time of crisis, I am inspired by our students, our families, and our community. We will continue to provide our students with the resources, tools, and opportunities to succeed in college and in life, despite all that is changing around us. 

I hope you will join us for our virtual graduation celebration on June 3, where we will surround our students with joy as we recognize their accomplishments in high school and in college.  

Thank you so much.  

Sara Woods

Executive Director


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