Rising Scholar Success Academy

Our Program

Summer Academy

The PennRSSA Summer Academy is a free, virtual, six-week summer program that provides current juniors (rising seniors) across Philadelphia with high-caliber academic enrichment, exposure to varied careers, and individualized support with the college application process.

All PennRSSA Summer Academy participants will complete four virtual courses:

  •       Applied Economics and Finance, featuring financial literacy content from the Wharton Global Youth Initiative’s “Understanding Your Money” Course;
  •       Applying to College, adapted from the Penn Admissions/Steppingstone Scholars “How to Apply to College” course on Coursera;
  •       Telling Your Story, which guides students through the process of writing a personal statement for their college applications; and
  •       Career Pathways, a series of career exploration modules developed in collaboration with Penn’s graduate schools (Communication, Dental Medicine, Design, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Arts and Sciences, Social Policy and Practice, and Veterinary Medicine).

With the support of Penn graduate students, participants will develop a well-researched college list, professional résumé, and polished personal statement. Working in small groups, they will also complete a Capstone Project, addressing a school or community issue of their choice.

The program is open to any student in a School District of Philadelphia, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, or Philadelphia public charter school who is on track to graduate in 2022-23.

Last year’s PennRSSA Summer Academy program dates are Tuesday, June 21 – Thursday, July 28. All synchronous programming will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:00am – 2:00pm ET. This year’s dates are TBD.

Students who successfully completed the PennRSSA Summer Academy were eligible for the following:

  •   A WorkReady stipend of up to $1,000,
  •   One high school credit on their academic transcript (for School District of Philadelphia students and those enrolled in participating schools), and
  •   A certificate of completion from the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information, email penn-rssa@upenn.edu.


OpenRSSA guides students through a self-paced, virtual “How to Apply to College” course designed by Penn Admissions and Steppingstone Scholars.

The program is designed for students who would like more information about the college application process but are unable to participate in our more time-intensive Summer Academy.

All Philadelphia-based rising high school seniors are eligible to participate. There are no academic prerequisites (e.g., GPA, test score).

This year’s OpenRSSA program is being run through the WorkReady Summer program.


Countdown to College

All current Philadelphia public, charter, and parochial high school seniors are eligible to participate!

Enrollment and participation are free, and there are no minimum GPA, test score, or other academic requirements for admission. Those participating in the Countdown to College can expect to receive individualized, virtual, and in-person instructional support on weekday afternoons and weekends.

This free program will focus on the following:

  • College admissions applications submitted to a minimum of 8 colleges
  • Personal statement (450 – 650 words) tied to a question on the Common Application
  • Personal budget
  • Professional resume
  • Career development outline

Interested participants can email Don R. Harrison Jr. at donrh@upenn.edu.