Beginning in 1800, White-Williams Scholars provided low-income students with the financial resources needed to support their academic goals in high school. Since 1989, Philadelphia Futures has helped low-income students succeed in high school and obtain a college degree.  In 2011, the organizations merged with the intention of utilizing and maximizing shared resources in the pursuit of a common purpose: to provide high-potential, economically disadvantaged Philadelphia students with life-changing programs and resources as they make their way to and through college.

Below is a brief history of each organization.

Philadelphia Futures


Philadelphia Futures was founded by visionary educator Marciene Mattleman, who believed that a college education is the key to a successful life.


The organization recruited its inaugural Sponsor-A-Scholar class. To expand its reach to students throughout the city, Philadelphia Futures published the first edition of Step Up to College as an insert in the Philadelphia Inquirer.


The first Sponsor-A-Scholar class graduated from high school and Philadelphia Futures began supporting students during their college years.


Philadelphia Futures formed its first groundbreaking strategic college partnership with Gettysburg College. The network has since expanded to include 11 other colleges and universities, including Albright College, Arcadia University, Dickinson College, Drexel University, Franklin & Marshall College, Haverford College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Penn State University, Temple University, and Villanova University.


Philadelphia Futures launched its Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) to provide gender-specific resources and support to male students as they navigate high school and prepare for college.


Merger of Philadelphia Futures and White-Williams Scholars. Philadelphia Futures became the administrator for The Ellis Trust.


Following a comprehensive strategic planning process, the organization launched the College Connection Program and the Outreach Futures Initiative, bringing the organization’s expertise and resources to a larger audience in Philadelphia.


Philadelphia Futures launched the White-Williams Scholars Incentive Awards to honor the legacy of the White-Williams Scholars, providing stipends to eligible high school students participating in the Sponsor-A-Scholar and College Connection Programs.


The first College Connection Class graduates from college.

White-Williams Scholars


A group of Philadelphians met at the Friends School House on Pine Street to create an organization to help young women in need.


The group’s work was carried on, first through foster homes and then in an institution located at 21st and Race Streets. The Society changed from protective work with delinquent girls to a counseling service for school children. It was then that the name was changed to commemorate the first President of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Bishop White and a trustee, George Williams.


Under the direction of Anna B. Pratt, the White-Williams Foundation began to work in the Philadelphia Public Schools. After realizing the effectiveness of certain resources, the White-Williams Foundation worked with the Board of Education to provide vocational guidance and placement, nutrition, psychological testing, and social work.


The White-Williams Foundation was focused on using funds and donations to provide financial assistance to students who were enrolled in the Philadelphia Public and Archdiocesan secondary schools. Those funds were intended to help cover student expenses, activity and test fees, and senior-year expenses. The purpose of the program shifted to encourage outstanding academic performance of high-achieving students with limited financial resources.


The organization again adapted itself to support the needs of public school students and expanded its financial support to emphasize preparing students for college admission. The Foundation changed its name to White-Williams Scholars to mirror this mission.


White-Williams Scholars began serving as the Administrator for The Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls, which funds educational and personal development opportunities for girls in Philadelphia who live in low-income, single-parent households.


White-Williams Scholars established its College Connection Program to provide direct services and resources to support students’ journeys to and through college.


Merger of Philadelphia Futures and White-Williams Scholars.

Philadelphia Futures Today

Philadelphia Futures provides Philadelphia’s low-income, first-generation-to-college students with the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary for admission to and success in college. We transform lives by breaking down the barriers that have historically excluded low-income, first-generation-to-college students from achieving college success. Students served by Philadelphia Futures are provided with a comprehensive, time-tested array of programs designed to reduce the institutional, academic, social, and financial barriers to college success.

Through our two direct service programs, Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) and College Connection, we serve nearly 600 high school and college students annually through academic enrichment services, personalized college guidance, placement and retention services, and financial resources. Unique in their depth and duration, these intensive, individualized programs support students from high school through college completion. Our Sponsor-A-Scholar Program has served students for over 30 years and has produced extraordinary results: 98% of students have matriculated to college. The projected college graduation rate for recent Sponsor-A-Scholar classes is 71%.  While much newer, the College Connection Program is expected to garner similar results.

Through our Outreach Futures initiative, including its centerpiece component, the Step Up to College Guide, we offer college guidance resources to students, families, schools, and community-based organizations in Philadelphia. We also serve as the administrator of the Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls, which provides financial resources to Philadelphia girls living in low-income, single-parent households.

Working with volunteer mentors, donors, and school and college personnel in direct service to students, in partnership with educational institutions, and in advocacy activities in the broader community, Philadelphia Futures increases the percentage of Philadelphia graduates prepared for higher education and reduces the institutional barriers to their academic success. Our model succeeds because it is built on a shared sense of responsibility for the future of Philadelphia.