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Community College of Philadelphia's president, Dr. Donald "Guy" Generals, is more blunt when it comes to the need to intervene early on, particularly for those who have dropped out of school.

"If we don't find a way to catch them early and put them on a path towards something more productive, they are only going to be a burden in terms of the services they are going to need later on in their life," Generals said. "Their inability to find gainful employment and incarceration is way more costly than community college. So these programs are incredibly important."

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The growth of Queenie's Pets wasn't just happenstance. Silberstein is one of 251 Philadelphia business owners who have graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Community College of Philadelphia.

The 10KSB program, as it is known, started three years ago, said Margaret Berger Bradley, the executive director of the program at CCP until this week. Through the program, business owners get an education, expert advice, networking, and sometimes access to business loans. It has been described as a mini-M.B.A., where owners learn about accounting, financial reporting, and writing business plans.

"One of our owners said he was trained as an architect, but he was never trained to run his own business," Bradley said. Silberstein said of 10,000 Small Businesses: "It took my success and kicked it into high gear. "It gave me this enormous access to all these other entrepreneurs who were having some of the same challenges I was having despite being in different industries."

After completing the program in April 2014, Silberstein moved from her home-office to the store in February 2015. Philadelphia has a great record of people starting small businesses, said John Grady, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., which teamed with CCP and the city to bring the program here. But the region lags in the businesses' rate of growth.

Lynette M. Brown-Sow commands the room. She’s a stately woman with a regal bearing, a cool eye, and a winning smile. Vice President for Marketing and Government Relations at Community College of Philadelphia, for the last 20 years she has helped it grow into a major institution and take its place on the national stage. She calls her job positioning and promoting. But, this doesn’t come close to describing the scope of her power.

One of the most surprising aspects was how students themselves engaged with those nudges. At Community College of Philadelphia and SUNY Brockport, students began texting back to messaging services designed to help them balance school and life stress or avoid academic trouble. "We ended up uncovering a really useful delivery channel for college administrators to reach and positively impact students that may have been underestimated in the past," Fishbane says.

Photo: ACHIEVEability participant Tracey Morris, of West Philadelphia, holds her daughter Kristyn after her graduation from Community College of Philadelphia in May 2014. Morris recently graduated from St. Joseph is University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. (Photo courtesy of Tracey Morris)

The 2016 class valedictorian said she looked forward to the future — a future that didn’t always look as bright. Montgomery’s life, and her outlook, changed for the better after she arrived at Camelot Education Academy three years ago.

“I’m really proud of myself,” said the 18-year-old South Philadelphia graduate who plans to earn degrees in criminal justice from Community College of Philadelphia and Central Penn College in Harrisburg en route to becoming a homicide detective. “It was a challenge. If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. It was a challenge but I fought through it.”

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