Our Vision

Every adult who aspires to earn a college degree has access to the resources and supports they need to start and complete a college degree:

  • Every adult is connected to a person who knows how, and can guide others, to go to and through college.
  • The value of a degree and knowing how to succeed in college are recognized within communities across socio-economic groups.
  • Adults have affordable college options at accredited institutions.
  • The practice of investing in adults completing college is mainstream in talent, workforce, and economic development strategies.

Our Strategy

Graduate Philadelphia’s approach is based on four key strategies:

  • Amplifying the benefits of including adult completion as a regional strategy for economic and workforce development, strengthening communities, and poverty alleviation.
  • Mobilizing regional resources around an adult college completion agenda that is aligned with other regional higher education and workforce priorities.
  • Influencing policies and practices within higher education, employers, and private and public funding sources for adult college students.
  • Creating and sustaining cross-sector partnerships to achieve the first three strategies.


Graduate Philadelphia has built partnerships with:

  • Regional colleges and universities
  • Workforce development agencies such as Philly Works and the CareerLink offices
  • Community-based and social service organizations
  • City of Philadelphia, employers, local chambers of commerce
  • Regional foundations and individual funders

Our History

Graduate Philadelphia was the first program in the country to align regional resources inside and outside of higher education specifically to help adults return and complete a degree.

Graduate Philadelphia was created to support the 70,000+ adult residents in the City of Philadelphia who had started but never finished a two or four year college degree.  Originating as a joint initiative of the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board (PWIB) and the Greater Philadelphia Economy League, in 2006, Graduate Philadelphia became a managed partnership of the PWIB and the United Way of Southeastern PA. This governance arrangement provided the structure for broad community and employer engagement. In 2011, The Graduate! Network incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization with Graduate Philadelphia as its flagship program.

A new idea in 2005, adult college completion is now a key component of the business and workforce development agendas for the following reasons:

  • The most productive approach to economic success for regions, communities, and individuals is to increase the number of people with a college degree.
  • Adults completing college infuse the talent pool with new skills, past experience, and maturity in handling social and business relationships.
  • Increasing the earnings of adults has an immediate effect on entire families and communities.
  • Adults are ready role models for both peers and young people in their social circles.

Graduate Philadelphia’s collective impact model has been replicated in many local communities across the country through The Graduate! Network.