In a heartwarming ceremony on June 23, Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) welcomed the 2,000 newest scholarship recipients to our program, and celebrated the accomplishments of our current and former students. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, CEO of Wawa Chris Gheysens, and many of CSFP’s committed donors, joined students onstage to share in the excitement. The event, which brought over 1,500 CSFP families, supporters, volunteers, and friends to the Kimmel Center, highlighted the guiding principle of CSFP’s scholarship program: when children receive the support and education they need, they will succeed.
CSFP alumnus and graduating high school senior Santiago Vallejo shared his personal story with the crowd during the ceremony. Santiago and his parents settled in Philadelphia immediately after emigrating from Colombia in 2000. They enrolled Santiago in a local public school, and later in St. Martin of Tours School, which they felt was a good fit. The school was welcoming, said Santiago, and “had a sense of community [my family] didn’t find in nearby schools.” But his parents needed help to keep Santiago enrolled, and so they turned to CSFP.
The solid foundation Santiago built at St. Martin of Tours would lend itself to Santiago’s later success. He reminded students in the audience, most of whom were receiving CSFP scholarships for the first time, that remaining positive in the face of adversity and working hard leads to success. Santiago matriculated to Father Judge for high school, where he excelled, due to “working hard, day in and day out, in order to make my dreams come true.” Santiago has no plans of stopping now. Despite financial setbacks that may keep him from attending his top choice college, he plans on realizing his dream of becoming a landscape architect, and remains confident in his future success, because he has already achieved so much.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell also hit this note during his address. He commented on the ups and downs of his own career, and mentioned his longtime involvement with CSFP. Rendell, a member of our Campaign Advisory Committee, highlighted the growth of our program, from 1,000 scholarships distributed per year in 2008 (when Rendell last addressed our families) to 2,000 year throughout our Campaign. The former governor credited CSFP’s tireless efforts, and the support of our donors, “the companies and people in the community that make this happen,” for making quality education accessible for so many children.
The Student Awards Ceremony marked the successful conclusion to CSFP’s $50million Campaign for 10,000 Children, which dramatically scaled our scholarship program by offering 2,000 new scholarships per year, from 2012-2016. “It was an audacious goal” said CSFP Executive Director Ina Lipman, “and it took the audacity of donors, staff, parents to realize that goal.”
For more information on CSFP’s scholarship program, click here.