Franklin & Marshall President Daniel R. Porterfield has been tapped to lead the board of a new foundation providing college access to rural Pennsylvania students.
The Lenfest Scholars Foundation was formed to secure the long-term future of the already successful scholarship program of the 14-year-old Lenfest Foundation. The Philadelphia-based foundation, created by H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, is set to expire no more than 10 years after the couple's deaths. To ensure that scholarships are available for decades to come, the new foundation was formed to take over that function.
"I'm delighted to support the Lenfests' vision to expand opportunities for high-achieving students from rural Pennsylvania," Porterfield said. "As they know so well, there's nothing more important to the future of the Commonwealth — and the country — than ensuring students can enjoy the college opportunities they have earned."
The scholarship program has helped more than 300 rural Pennsylvanians pursue higher education since its inception in 2000, and 98 percent of the recipients have completed college or are on track to graduate. Scholars are chosen during their junior year in high school, so that the foundation can assist them with the admissions and financial aid process. Currently 14 high schools participate, from Adams, Chester, Franklin, Lancaster, Montgomery and York counties.
Franklin & Marshall has enrolled a number of Lenfest Scholars since the program's inception. In addition, a $300,000 grant from the Lenfest Foundation, awarded in 2014, supports the Pennsylvania College Advising Corps at F&M.
The Lenfests have given away more than $1 billion, and say that the Scholars program is their greatest achievement.
"The program is changing lives and changing communities," said Marguerite Lenfest. "It has surpassed our expectations and then some."
Porterfield is a national leader in expanding college access. In 2014 he received the "I Have A Dream” Foundation's lifetime achievement award and was the only liberal arts college president invited to speak at three White House summits on college opportunity. This spring, he co-chaired the Aspen Institute Task Force on College Opportunity for High Achievers, a group of education leaders charged with developing strategies to increase the enrollment of high-achieving students from the bottom half of household incomes at the nation's top colleges and universities.