Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia

Organizational mission statement (50 words or less): 

Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) is a privately-funded program whose mission is to provide children from under-resourced Philadelphia families with financial access to quality, safe, K-8th grade, tuition-based schools, thereby increasing their long-term economic and social success.

Brief description of organization (include key programs and recent achievements, 100 words or less):

CSFP grants need-based, partial scholarships through a random lottery. CSFP currently serves more than 5,300 children enrolled at over 170 private and parochial schools.

 

Population served (25 words or less):

5,300 students across 2,700+ families in Philadelphia.

Geographic area(s) served: 

Philadelphia

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is your organization’s work primarily? 

 Education 

 

Does the organization already receive support from or otherwise engage life science companies? If so, how? 

No

Please outline existing volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any current virtual volunteer events:

In addition to our Board, comprised of 15 community leaders, CSFP recruits volunteers from the community, our family networks, donors, and corporations to assist CSFP in running events and programs for our students and families. They also help us canvas Philadelphia to distribute marketing materials, advertise our scholarships and assist families in completing CSFP’s application for our annual fall lottery. As in-person opportunities transition to virtual events, volunteers help CSFP with behind-the-scenes planning, marketing, and joint events with outside partners to help facilitate engagement with our constituency. 

 

CSFP's Young Friends Executive Committee is an all-volunteer group of local young professionals dedicated our mission of access and opportunity for Philadelphia students, that helps us advertise our events on social media and connects with their personal networks to raise awareness about our current initiatives. All members of the Executive Committee attend meetings with CSFP operations staff and contribute their time on a re-occurring basis. Interested young professionals may contact CSFP operations staff to join the Executive Committee and find out more.

 

Please outline proposed or potential future volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any planned virtual volunteer events:  

Each quarter, CSFP Reads, our family book club, features a book for 3rd through 5th grade-level readers to promote at-home literacy and family engagement. We regularly seek volunteers to help facilitate book discussions between children and families in attendance, whether in-person or virtually. Our upcoming CSFP Reads meeting will be held virtually on Zoom and is scheduled for early December 2020. 

 

In anticipation of CSFP's December 2020 Lottery Day, our largest annual event, CSFP will offer at-home opportunities to volunteers interested in making phone calls to selected families who have been chosen for School Year 2021 - 2022 (SY21-22) scholarships in our lottery. This event typically brings together donors, corporate partners, CSFP Young Friends and our network of Parent Ambassadors in a volunteer capacity, and is also open to anyone interested in joining us to share the great news families. In March 2021, CSFP will host a smaller-scale Lottery Day event to inform the final round of families selected for SY21-22 scholarships with the same goals and volunteer opportunities available.

GRANT REQUEST

Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares:

 

Operations/General Support

Project Title:

 

General Operating Funding for CSFP K-8th Grade Scholarship Program

 

Total Project Budget (if applicable):

 

$11,657,000 for scholarship program; $13,048,350 for total organizational budget

 

Requested Amount [note that first year partners will generally be awarded $10k]:

 

$10,000

 

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work?

 

Education

 

Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?):

 

The pandemic continues to create and expose larger disparities for under resourced families in Philadelphia, a city where 34% of children live in poverty according to the 2020 report from Save the Children. A recent Pew Charitable Trust poll of Philadelphia residents shows this disparity gap widening as 60% of respondents earning less than $30,000 said they experienced more lay-offs, reduced pay, furloughs, reduced work hours and business closures than their higher-wage counterparts as a result of COVID-19. The same Pew poll found that “in the months since the virus-related economic shutdown, a quarter of residents have fallen behind in rent or mortgage payments, and nearly a third have done so on credit card or other bills.” This is concerning to CSFP, as 24% of all CSFP families in our most recent analysis have household incomes at or below the national poverty level for a family of four set by U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines, but these families still prioritize school tuition as an expense, even when they may not have income or savings available to cover both household essentials and their children’s education expenses. Eighty-six percent of CSFP students are living in Philadelphia’s lowest-performing public school catchment zones, defined as ranking in the lowest 15% on PSSA and Keystone exams. This is where CSFP steps in: by providing need-based K-8 scholarships and empowering families through support and shared resources about schools in the area, so families can make the best decision regarding their children’s education. Our most recent voluntary, self-reported racial demographics of children currently enrolled in our program includes a population who reflect the diversity of Philadelphia and identify as Black and African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, Middle Eastern, Mixed/Multiracial and Other. For a vast majority of CSFP families, our scholarship award provides nearly half of the total tuition for their children. Our program allows up to three children in a family to receive the scholarship. The scholarship follows the child so families may send each of their children to any school within our network of over 160 partner schools that best fit their individual needs, helping to stabilize families and build a pathway to success.

 

Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.):

 

A $10,000 Life Science Cares general operating grant would help CSFP fulfill our main organizational objectives during School Year 2020-2021 (SY20-21) as follows: 1.) Distribute scholarships through an equitable lottery system and award 2,000 new K-8 scholarships to Philadelphia children, in addition to maintaining thousands of scholarships for children in the second, third or fourth years of their four-year award period. CSFP is committed to fulfilling scholarships to students for four years. 2.) Maintain a range of partner schools to provide a broad choice in educational decisions by scaling our scholarships for families and their children. Although we cannot predict the lasting effects of the pandemic, our partner schools rely on tuition dollars to continue paying teachers, expenses and prepare for emergencies like pivoting to distance learning to remain operational. The average scholarship award amount for SY20-21 is $2,005 per child, an increase of $115 from our $1,890 per child average in School Year 2019-2020. 3.) Promote long-term success for Philadelphia children through access to quality foundational education. Our understanding that the value of parents being active participants in their child’s education led to the creation our Parent Ambassador (PA) program in 2016, which brings advocacy and information sharing directly to CSFP families. CSFP parents who are PAs work in their school and home communities, equipped with educational knowledge and tools to share with other Philadelphia families when weighing school options. Our families are directly engaged at their schools and have access to CSFP staff and their assigned PA at any time during their child’s school career.4.) Distribute CSFP COVID-19 Emergency Tuition Fund grants on a rolling-basis during SY20-21 up to a maximum of $1,000 per child to families impacted by reduced or lost income from the pandemic. We created this Fund in March 2020 after 73% of CSFP families experienced income loss and unemployment. We will confirm tuition amounts for our families directly with our partner schools prior to sending our Emergency Fund grants to partner schools on behalf of families so they can keep their children enrolled in the school of their choice. 5.) Offer language translation services to all non-English speaking families to eliminate this as a barrier of support. Our scholarship application materials can be translated online to over 100 languages. We also have two fluent Spanish speakers on staff to assist with questions that our Spanish speaking families may have about our scholarships.

 

 

Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?):

 

CSFP is committed to equitable access to quality K-8th grade education and to ensuring that each student can realize their full potential. For over a decade, we have partnered with an independent educational evaluator to collect and track scholarship recipient data. We conduct longitudinal studies to track attendance rates and standardized test scores of current students, and the graduation rates and activities of program alumni. CSFP has made 90%+ school attendance a requirement for children to retain their scholarships over the four years of our program and CSFP students have a 95% average daily attendance rate. In our most recent program study, CSFP 7th graders overall outperformed the national average in both Math and Reading. On average, CSFP 7th graders scored 9 percentile points higher than the national average in Reading (59th percentile), and on par with the national average in Math (50th percentile). In addition, according to a study by the Washington Student Achievement Council, high levels of school engagement are associated with higher rates of high school graduation. Our most recent longitudinal evaluation confirms that after receiving CSFP scholarships in elementary or middle school, over 80% of CSFP high school alumni participated in some type of extra-curricular activity. 95% of CSFP alumni graduate high school on time, which compares to their peers in Philadelphia public high school with a graduation rate of 69%. Within one year of graduation, 85% of CSFP alumni enroll in college or post-secondary education to continue preparation for their future careers. We use these annual longitudinal evaluations to make data-driven decisions in order to improve our scholarship program operations and ensure we are meeting the needs of CSFP families. The results of our program illustrate the power of quality education and prove that all children can succeed if given the opportunity

 

Does this project already have support from life science companies?

 

If so, what is the nature of that support? CSFP receives support from life sciences companies through company sponsored employee matching gift programs. We receive this matching program support periodically throughout the fiscal year from two global life sciences companies with headquarters in New Jersey.

 

EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION

Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, programor initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request?

 

The second half of 2020 has created an opportunity for CSFP to host supplemental programs and events in new and innovative ways. CSFP Reads, our quarterly family book club for 3rd through 5th graders, transitioned from an in-person meeting held at a community partner event space to Zoom. Students and their families joined remotely for book discussion and organized literacy activities led by CSFP staff and volunteers. We will host upcoming CSFP Reads meetings on Zoom and will re-evaluate as conditions continue to change in the coming months. CSFP’s Camp Connections, an academic summer camp program at no-cost to families intended to combat “summer-slide” for our scholarship recipients, took place again this summer, but with a new format. We partnered with St. Joseph’s Preparatory School PreU program, Hill Top Preparatory School Summer Adventures and La Salle University Summer STEM Enrichment Camp to fully-fund the placement of 25 CSFP scholarship recipients across these camps so they could learn, grow, and be challenged with enriching, accessible outside the classroom experiences. We expanded the eligible age group to 3rd – 8th graders (ages 9-14 years-old). All three of our Camp Connections partners quickly pivoted their original in-person programs to virtual sessions. After we surveyed Camp Connections families, we realized half of the students did not have a computer to use for the virtual summer camps. CSFP purchased Chromebooks and created a lending library to make sure students could fully participate in each virtual camp session. All students who received Chromebooks from CSFP completed their Camp Connections program. Not only could students use their Chromebooks for virtual camp sessions, they could access a STEM video series and resources produced by CSFP’s summer 2020 interns. Our annual Student Awards, the culmination of the school year and our formal welcome to new CSFP families in June, was shifted in our calendar year to accommodate the health and safety of our community. CSFP staff planned and scheduled the September debut of our Spotlight Celebration and Application Kickoff to recognize the hard work of CSFP students, families and teachers throughout SY19-20, as well as launch our scholarship application season. On September 22nd, CSFP premiered this half-hour livestreamed video event on YouTube to over 300 live viewers featuring student award winners, alumni speakers and special guest appearances. The video has since gained over 1,800 unique view s, and can be accessed at our CSF Philadelphia YouTube page. For the past six years, CSFP has hosted our free Philly K -8 School Fair with GreatPhillySchools (GPS), most recently at Girard College, as a resource for all Philadelphia families to select the best school environment for their children. This year, CSFP and GPS jointly decided to move the School Fair from an in-person event to a virtual experience by creating www.phillyk8fair.com. This School Fair website, which went live in October, is a powerful school selection tool for our families that includes general details and admission information for each partner school, along with expanded family-focused information featuring tips for families to apply to schools, a general application timeline for non-public schools, tips to prepare families to attend school open houses, tips on affording private schools, and a guide for families to smoothly transition to a new school environment. These enhanced admission tools will become an on-going CSFP web feature, supporting our school placement processes and empowering families to utilize their CSFP scholarships in the most effective way possible. While created in response to a crisis, CSFP is excited to sustain this portal beyond the pandemic as an additional resource to connect parents and students to educational tools that are most conducive to their needs. We also look forward to the time when we can return to an in-person Philly K-8 School Fair. We continue to prioritize events that connect with our community as we remain focused on sharing resources for Philadelphia families and the positive impact of CSFP scholarships.

How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service?

 

CSFP empowers families not only by offering language translation services for our scholarship applications, but also by providing resources about schools in the Philadelphia area, so families can make the best decision regarding their scholarships and children’s education with individualized school selection and our Parent Ambassador (PA) program. Our Director of Parent and School Partnerships works directly with families to share information about schools, education models, and additional tuition support. Our Director of Parent and School Partnerships also oversees the PA program, which has 32 PAs placed within our network schools in SY20-21, and offers annual training and leadership development opportunities so PAs can learn skills to be educational advocates within their home and school communities. Our supplemental programming at no-cost to families such as CSFP Reads and Camp Connections, described above, offers additionalresources outside the classroom and during the summer months to ensure CSFP students receive access to academic enrichment year-round. This attention to the unique needs of students with scholarship application language services and school selection, our supplemental programming and family empowerment

opportunities set CSFP apart from other local scholarship organizations.