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Welcome CU Philly

"One in four Philadelphians live in poverty and more than one in six residents aged 25 or older started college but did not finish." -The Hope Center’s 2021 Report on Barriers to College Completion in Philadelphia

College Unbound under S.A.R.A. (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) is scaling to the State of Pennsylvania with a goal of enrolling 500 students by 2026. The City of Philadelphia is home to over 30 colleges and universities and the Delaware Valley houses an additional 50 institutions of higher education, collectively serving almost 300,000 students. However, according to a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts only 6% of Philadelphia residents’ who make less than $50,000 annually have attained a Bachelor’s Degree.

The urgent need for College Unbound in Pennsylvania was laid bare in a September 2021 report by the Hope Center at Temple University: "Philadelphia remains the poorest of the country’s ten largest cities, and continues to trail Boston, New York City and other U.S. cities in percentage of residents with college degrees. A lack of postsecondary education is associated not only with lower earnings and rates of full employment, but with poorer health and higher rates of suicide. It is imperative that we help Philadelphians finish postsecondary degrees."

The launch of CU Philadelphia is led by former Big Picture Philadelphia Executive Director, David Bromley, with the support of CU President, and Big Picture Learning co-founder, Dennis Littky, alongside a strong, local Advisory Board including: University of Pennsylvania Interim President, Wendell Pritchett; Philadelphia Foundation President, Pedro Ramos; Philadelphia Housing Authority President, Kelvin Jeremiah; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President, Jerry Jordan; former Philadelphia Commerce Secretary, Sylvie Gallier Howard; former HUD Undersecretary, Salin Geevarghese; and former Graduate! Network President, Hadass Sheffer.

In January, 2022 College Unbound officially launched two pilot cohorts in partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), serving PHA residents and employees with the goal of scaling this opportunity city-wide.

In the next twelve months College Unbound looks to secure seven additional partnerships with regional corporations and community based organizations in Pennsylvania to assure the broadest possible access to adult learners who have faced significant barriers to attending college.

Browse our website to learn more about College Unbound, read stories about our alumni and apply!