President Sheldon Hackney announced yesterday that a $750,000 gift made to the University will be used to award "last dollar" scholarships to seniors in West Philadelphia high schools. According to Superintendent of Schools Constance Clayton, the scholarships will "close the gap" between available aid from loans and grants and the student's real ability to pay for a college education. "The uniqueness of this program is that it provides the last dollars the students need to go to college," Clayton said at the half-hour ceremony at the Urban Education Foundation. The scholarships will be awarded primarily based on need and will range from $100 to $1000. Students may use the scholarship at any college or university. "We're deeply appreciative of the University for its commitment and interest in the success of our children," Clayton said. University Trustee John Neff provided the seed money for "last dollar" scholarships two years ago, and the first scholarships were awarded to sixty students last year. Clayton said that program coordinators are hoping to raise $15 million in the next few years so that the program may be extended to schools outside of the West Philadelphia district. At last year's Founder's Day celebration on January 17, Hackney pledged a large gift from the University to endow the program. Yesterday the University, in conjunction with CoreStates Financial Corporation, fulfilled the promise with the $750,000 gift. The $750,000 is part of CoreStates' donation to the University's five-year $1 billion capital campaign. Hackney called the program an incentive for students remaining in high school. "It's a statement that our society cares, and that there is a way for every young person to go to college if they have the drive," he added. The idea to develop a "last dollar" program in West Philadelphia was conceived four years ago by Adjunct Associate Education Professor Norman Newberg who is director of the Collaborative for West Philadelphia Schools. "I was ecstatic today," Newberg said. "To see it all come together was really thrilling. I hope someday the scholarships will be available to students all over the city." Newberg said that he had studied successful programs around the country and had drawn up a proposal that suggested creating the $1 million scholarship fund and a College Access Center, which would award the scholarships and advise students about college admissions and financial aid. Helen Cunningham, director of the College Access Center, praised the University for its interest in improving opportunities for West Philadelphia students. "The University's ability to look beyond its own recruiting needs and help its neighbors attend the college of their choice is heartening," she said. "The city of Philadelphia needs more collaborations like this one."Comments powered by Disqus
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