PHILADELPHIA, March 21, 2013—Community College of Philadelphia is launching an initiative to identify and support the city’s Pathfinders, devoted community volunteers who work behind the scenes to help neighbors and first-generation college students get into and through college.
"Students sometimes enroll in college, then stop out or drop out as a result of life challenges," says Diane Kae, Manager, Community College of Philadelphia’s Student Outreach and Recruitment. "Some of our most successful students say they reached their goals because a neighbor, family member or stranger stepped forward to help them enroll, and prevent them from leaving college."
The College’s new Pathfinders initiative seeks to give these highly influential community leaders information, tools and resources in a more timely fashion, Kae said. "By meeting with them regularly, the College will be able to identify innovative practices and share them with our diverse community partners."
Christopher Thomas, an alumnus and single dad who now attends the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship, will be the featured speaker at the first Pathfinders event on April 8. The orientation session will be held from 5:15 p.m.—6:30 p.m. in the Welcome Center (P1-05), located in the Pavilion Building on 17th Street south of Spring Garden Street.
Thomas said a friend actually submitted his application to Community College of Philadelphia without his knowledge. He will talk to Pathfinders about the importance of community support and how that act of caring confidence transformed his life. The free Pathfinders training is open to individuals as well as to community-based organizations.
As part of this pilot program, Pathfinders will be encouraged to take on a number of critical tasks during 2013, among them: tutoring Philadelphia students preparing for the community college placement exams; bringing groups of first-generation college students to campus for free tours; explaining how financial aid systems work and identifying scholarships for students in need.
The College will host information sessions each semester for Pathfinders, and provide regular email updates that identity key areas where students are likely to falter, along with materials that address challenges they may face.
In today’s job market, college graduates have a jobless rate that is one-fourth that for high school graduates, a 2012 Georgetown University study found. On average people with a college degree earn 84 percent more over a lifetime than a high school graduates.
Individuals interested in joining the Pathfinders initiative or attending the orientation are asked to RSVP by contacting Kae at firstname.lastname@example.org