First Cohort of Octavius Catto Scholars Begins Classes in Spring 2021

In a huge step towards creating an accessible higher education system for all Philadelphians, the first cohort of Octavius Catto Scholars habegun classes this Spring 2021 semesterThe group onew, first-time students is the first to participate in this groundbreaking program, which will provide free tuition for thousands of students at Community College of Philadelphia. 

Created in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and Mayor Jim Kenney, the Octavius Catto Scholarship will become an integral part of the City’s “continued commitment to expand quality education for all,” and will ultimately benefit 4,500 students in the next five years. “As we look to recover from this unprecedented pandemic, we are equitably ensuring that all Philadelphians have the educational opportunities to secure quality jobs,” said Mayor Kenney in October. He added, Not only will this initiative help lift more Philadelphians out of poverty, it will also drive inclusive economic growth in our city.” 

The Octavius Catto Scholarship is named after a well-known scholar and activist, who in the 1860s and early 1870s fought for the liberation and rights of Black Americans during and after the Civil War. Octavius Catto is also the subject of Philadelphia’s first public monument to feature a single Black American. 

With Catto’s legacy and a vision of equal access to education in mind, the scholarship was designed to address the needs of students living in poverty in a holistic and comprehensive way. It includes funding intended to assist scholars with secondary costs like books and living expenses, a specialized support team of academic advisors to ensure that students are receiving the support they need, and access to  City services like child care and housing supportThe College will also make any accommodations necessary for eligible applicants who are living undocumented in the United States 

A degree brings the benefits of expanded career options, family-sustaining wages and financial security,” said Dr. Donald Guy Generals, College president, in a Catto Scholarship virtual meet-and-greet last Thursday. Continuing, he said, “Education has the power to change lives. With this event, we celebrate these students and this opportunity to effect change.” 

To learn more about who is eligible for the Octavius Catto Scholarship, visit