The Philadelphia Academies, Inc. is dedicated to the mission of expanding life and economic opportunities for Philadelphia high school students through career-focused programming that prepares young people for employment and post-secondary education. PAI supports about 4,000 students through career academies in 12 Philadelphia public high schools.
Students in the career academies receive their instruction in small supportive learning environments, typically grades 10-12, organized around career themes. Through career-focused electives, life skills workshops, internships, and links to post-secondary education, students gain the 21st century skills they need to succeed, and they are connected to teachers, mentors, and higher education and business people who support their transition to adulthood. From these positive adults, students learn how to set goals based on real-world opportunities, how to expand their professional networks, and how to use those networks as a bridge to their goals. From recent national studies we know that young people educated in career academies do better economically post-graduation, and from 43 years of experience in Philadelphia, we know that they graduate at higher rates. The career academy model started in Philadelphia in 1969.
Upon his 2011 graduation from one of PAI's Business and Technology Academies, Abel weighed his options. He had prepared well for college - attending PAI's College Expo in 10th grade, identifying colleges of interest in 11th grade, and completing his FAFSA and admission paperwork in 12th - but in the end decided to put off starting college to work for a well-regarded Philadelphia law firm. He liked the prospect of building upon the relationships he had developed there as an intern in 11th and 12th grades and moving up the ladder to a full-time position. During high school he had participated in a number of activities that prepared him for the working world - resume preparation workshops, a practice interview expo, service experiences - and he had received strong support and guidance from PAI staff, Academy teachers, and his law firm supervisors. Today Abel is taking the next step along his career path by enrolling in a four-year college, where he plans to pursue his Bachelor's degree in business.