Philadelphia Futures 2021 Virtual Graduation Celebration

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Philadelphia Futures honored the Class of 2021 High School and Higher Education Graduates with a virtual graduation celebration on Thursday, June 3rd. You can watch it by clicking here.

This event, which in the past has taken place at University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium, virtually recognized 165 graduating high school seniors and students earning their associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Rick Williams, 6abc News Anchor and Philadelphia Futures Board Member, served as the host for the virtual celebration.

One hundred percent of the Class of 2021 high school scholars graduated from college and 99% will be matriculating in the fall. Thirteen percent of the Class of 2021 are attending colleges outside of Pennsylvania, the largest of any Philadelphia Futures class. Members of the Class of 2021 will be the first to attend Bentley University, Brandeis University, California College of the Arts, Clark University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University. Sixty percent of the Class of 2021 will be attending a Philadelphia Futures partner school, including Albright College, Arcadia University, Dickinson College, Drexel University, Franklin & Marshall College, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Juniata College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Penn State University, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University, and Villanova University.

“Here’s what I am actually here to tell you,” said Clarissa Faustin, a Class of 2021 Lafayette College graduate and now alum of the Philadelphia Futures program, while addressing her fellow classmates in her virtual speech. “Believe it. You have to believe it. Spaces like Futures would not exist if you did not. It is a radical action to believe in yourself, in your abilities, and in who you are as a person. I am asking you here and now to be your best and fullest self everywhere you go. There’s a reason you are in the places you are and stifling yourself isn’t one of them.”

The six-year college graduation rate for the Class of 2015 Sponsor-A-Scholar students is 86% and for College Connection students is 82%. Sixty-four percent of the Class of 2016 scholars have graduated from college, with several more still enrolled and on track to graduate. Of the students who completed their degrees in 2020, 88% were enrolled in graduate school, accepted a full-time job, or committed to a year-long service program within six months of graduation.

The virtual celebration also included award announcements for the higher education graduates, which included the Changing the Story Award, Outstanding Overall Academic Achievement Award, the Marciene Mattleman Determination Award, and the Reach Higher Award, and a scholarship presentation for the high school graduates, totaling twelve scholarships and $134,000, in which the spirit of excellence, tenacity, and commitment to Philadelphia Futures were recognized in powerful ways.

Special guests were featured throughout the video and on social media leading up to the celebration, including Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia Dr. William Hite, Philadelphia Futures mentors and staff, members of the CBS 3 team including Jessica Kartalija, Ukee Washington, Janelle Burrell, Jim Donovan, and Pat Gallen, and even Gritty from the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Welcome graduates, families, friends, and supporters. We are so grateful that you are with us, even if we are not physically together, as we log the accomplishments of our high school and higher education graduates,” said Sara Woods, President and CEO of Philadelphia Futures, during her virtual welcome. “In this year of unprecedented challenges, I am glad to have the opportunity to celebrate you, our students, and your accomplishments. We are so proud of you. Looking back over the past year, I am in awe of how you and your families have navigated a global pandemic, a much needed racial reckoning, and a complete disruption of school while still putting one foot in front of the other. You are truly remarkable and an inspiration to us all.”

You can view the 2021 Philadelphia Futures Virtual Graduation Celebration by clicking here. Be sure to also read through the 2021 Graduation Program to see where our high school graduates are heading to college and short bios of our higher education graduates.


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