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Penn College part of pioneering $1.8 million scholarship initiative

WILLIAMSPORT– Pennsylvania College of Technology is partnering with the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation and Philadelphia Foundation for the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program, which benefits youth in, or aging out of, foster care.

The innovative large-scale initiative, designed to increase college graduation among up to 100 Philadelphians annually, features participation principally from Harcum College (80 scholars) with additional funding reserved for three institutions: Penn College, 10 scholars; Penn State main campus, five scholars; and West Chester University, five scholars.

Immensitas (pronounced immense-it-tas) is Latin for “boundless” and signifies the unlimited potential of every youth, as well as the life opportunities available to those with a college degree.

Under Pennsylvania’s Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, tuition and fees for undergraduate degrees at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are waived for youth in foster care to reduce financial barriers.

The $1.8 million Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program will cover room, board and expenses such as books, computers and essentials for dorm living, while simultaneously leveraging an extensive support system for participants. Supports will include academic advising, a summer bridge program, housing and meals during school breaks, financial and money management guidance, and a designated liaison at each school.

“I believe that education can make all men and women equal regardless of what neighborhood they are from or what their economic start in life was like,” said Brook Lenfest. “Through education, anyone can broaden their horizons and enrich their outlook on life and pursue any career path that exists. Through that freedom, they can find fulfillment, economic security and, ultimately, a happy life.”

“Unfortunately, access to educational opportunity is not equal across all neighborhoods and households. These scholarships are a small way to try and even the scales of opportunity,” he added. “I know the recipients will make themselves proud and in turn, make me proud by achieving at a high level and I hope their example will encourage others to join this effort with their support.”

“Philadelphia Foundation believes in the critical role of education in shaping and preparing future leaders,” said Pedro Ramos, president and CEO of Philadelphia Foundation. “As long-time funders of both educational opportunities and vulnerable populations, we are proud to partner with the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation on this important initiative and look forward to bringing it to scale.”

“Pennsylvania College of Technology enthusiastically welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program,” said President Davie Jane Gilmour. “This initiative, which broadens access to higher education for underserved populations, will enable 10 students annually to benefit from the hands-on, applied technology education we provide. A Penn College degree is a passport to secure, lifelong employment in the essential occupations that are always in demand in the workforce.”

The largest component of the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program is a two-year pathway to an associate degree at Harcum College for 80 students annually through a partnership with I-Lead’s ACE (Achieve College Education) program. Under the Harcum/I-Lead partnership, two community-based locations will provide services to support participants in completing their degrees. Delta Community Supports, Inc. in Glenside is the first of two locations. The second site is being developed with Project Home.

Approximately 250 Philadelphia youth annually age out of foster care beginning at age 18. It is estimated that only 3% of former foster youth who enroll in college will graduate.

To be eligible for the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program, the applicant must have been served by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services at any time since age 16, earned a high school degree or GED and must qualify under the Chafee federal grant program for foster care participants.

To learn more about how to apply for the program at Penn College, contact Kathleen V. McNaul, director of the Academic Success Center, at kmcnaul@pct.edu or (570) 320-2400, ext. 7093.

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