Cabrini is collaborating with North Philadelphia school to enhance college dreams

Cabrini is collaborating with North Philadelphia school to enhance college dreams

Cabrini has engaged in a partnership with the North Philadelphia middle school, St. James School, that will make college more accessible for kids in the area. The Episcopal school has a graduate support program that is dedicated to expanding in order to make college more of a reality for students in these low-income neighborhoods.

The approach they’re taking makes sense to the general public as you look further into it; set these middle schoolers up for success now and get them the tools necessary to flourish in their high school careers before attending these universities. Working with these middle schoolers can change many of their young perspectives to already get them thinking about the importance of education in years to come, while getting them in the best high schools in the region and ensuring them a college experience. Harcum College and Holy Family University have also begun to work with St. James during these efforts to give students more of an opportunity.

Back in October of 2020, the President’s Office received a call from David Kasievich, the Head of School at St. James. “Mr. Kasievish reached out to Cabrini because they were familiar with our mission, vision and the dedication that we have to serving students, regardless of their financial background, to ensure that they are personally and professionally successful,” the VP of enrollment management at Cabrini, George J. Walter, said.

A street in an impoverished region of the North Philadelphia area. Photo from the Street Literature gallery section on

“Like Cabrini, St. James believes in the benefit of maintaining relationships with students to provide them with a connection and a place to go if they have any questions. St. James has a Graduate Support Team that stays connected to their alums through high school, college and beyond.”

Not only are Cabrini and these other colleges trying to prepare these kids for academic success, but they’re also in this post-secondary partnership because their core values align that makes for a similar vision all across the board. The St. James School is a faith-based private school with nearly 90 students, so reaching a small school like this is the start these colleges were looking for in terms of having a presence in the North Philadelphia community.

Changing the statistics on graduating and college completion is essential, with how many of these students in these low-income neighborhoods don’t always have the motivation to seek college, especially as a first-generation college attendee.

“Approximately 40% of our students are Pell grant eligible and approximately 30% are first generation,” said Walter. “Through partnerships like this, we are able to connect with students who may not otherwise think that a Cabrini education is possible and attempt to provide them with the financial support that they need.”

St. James students and families will be connected to Cabrini in numerous ways when the partnership is fully underway such as having the Admission and Financial Aid staff visit the school, as well as having scheduled trips to campus for these middle school students, so they can get a glimpse of a college environment up close and personal at a young age. Having a liaison from the Admissions Office help work the St. James Graduate Support Team and establishing a process through which the Center for Student Success at Cabrini will collaborate with the Graduate Support Team at St. James, are goals the partnership intends to commit to.

Grace Hall, where the center for student success is located on Cabrini. Photo by Pryce Jamison.

“It means a lot to me that Cabrini wants to make a difference in the area I’m from to help kids better their situations,” sophomore and North Philadelphia native Naiser Warren-Robinson, said. “Educated views on college and knowing it’s a reality that’s more attainable than they think is limited around there. It’s essential that as we are getting these students prepared to attend these universities, we are also setting them up with a game plan to actually be successful in college.” 

Not only will Cabrini include affordable financial aid packages to these family’s contributions that will limit the loan damage at graduation, but St. James School students who attend Cabrini University will work with a designated university team member for regular check-ins. The team member could be an academic adviser or even a campus minister, while the St. James School graduate support staff will have a hand in the process as well.

Accessibility to get to these schools can have its obstacles for students, both from a mental and financial standpoint. When the possibility is instilled in students at a young age, it shows these families how much these colleges care about lending a helping hand.