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“For the Good of the City” An Early Evaluation of the Catto Scholarship

The Octavius V. Catto Scholarship launched in spring 2021 at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) to help Philadelphians achieve college success. Inspired by 19th-century civil rights leader Octavius Catto’s belief in education for all, the scholarship goes beyond tuition assistance, providing wraparound supports including academic coaching, monthly direct payments, bookstore credits, and referrals to community resources. This initiative, created by former Mayor Jim Kenney, aims to combat poverty by making college more accessible and affordable.

RFA conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of the Catto Scholarship aimed at identifying early successes and recommending areas for improvement. The report highlights the role of Success Coaches and other staff in building meaningful connections with Scholars and supporting them in overcoming barriers to retention and completion. The evaluation also presents findings suggesting that persistence and completion are higher among Catto Scholars than non-Catto CCP peers.

The report emphasizes the importance of dedicated resources and staff in sustaining the scholarship’s success. Recommendations from the evaluation include enhancing support for staff to prevent burnout, creating more community-building opportunities for scholars, and building additional community partnerships to support housing, mental health, transportation, and childcare needs.