Philadelphia College & Career Pathway


In 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter set a community wide goal of increasing high school graduation rates to 80% from 53% in 2007. The secondary goal was to increase baccalaureate attainment rates by 2017. City leaders recognized that getting young people in Philly to graduation and beyond was essential to the economic health and future of the city.  To foster momentum, the city established the Philadelphia Council for College and Career Success. This cross disciplinary council is focused on aligning various government, non-profit, and for-profit entities around the collective improvement of high school graduation rates and postsecondary opportunities.

Through this alignment work, a re-engagement strategy was developed called Project U-Turn to support youth to complete their secondary education. They have worked to align youth-related funding streams, including youth funds and activities authorized by the Workforce Investment Act. They also have focused on supporting students transitioning from high school to higher education through providing resources to create a college-going culture and connecting public schools to higher education institutions.

The push to develop a college-going culture resulted in a community wide campaign, Philly Graduation Coach Campaign, to provide citizens the opportunity to support youth in a meaningful way. In tandem, the PhillyGoes2College website was developed as a one-stop shop for high school completion and college access. This online resource helps with questions on financial aid, necessary high school classes to be prepared for college, and how to choose the right fit. All of these efforts build on the momentum to improve high school graduation rates. 

The Strategy

City Role

Mayor Nutter utilized his bully pulpit to focus Philadelphia around this pressing challenge of high school graduation rates by setting a city wide goal. A coalition of city leaders also used their convening ability to create a council that brought multiple stakeholders to the table. The city's focus help align the different stakeholders to create or expand successful initiatives and programs. City staff and funding has been the back bone of multiple parts of this strategy. 


Almost every sector is represented on the Council for College and Career Success, including the business, non-profit, education, higher education, workforce, and philanthropy community.


Since 2007 the high school graduation rate has increased by 12 % according to the Council's 2014 report. Furthermore record setting financial investment was done by the city, business and philanthropic community to Philadelphia's workforce ready and summer programing. The alignment of programing has created a "community of practice" among the Accelerated High Schools within Philly to collectively learn and address challenges head on. 


Institute for Youth, Education and Families

Philadelphia Works, Inc.
1617 JFK Boulevard, 13th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Last Modified: March 2016

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