As a high school principal working to get Philadelphia students into college, Kahlila Ames says her challenge is fundamental: "When you've got a population that may not be believers, how do you make them believe?"
Ames' students face major obstacles. They need good grades. They need money. They must navigate a long, confusing admissions process. They must manage countless family obligations and social distractions.
The first big hurdle in getting more Philadelphians on track to post-secondary academic success is to ensure that fewer students drop out before finishing high school. In recent years, the graduation rate has finally climbed above 60 percent in Philadelphia public schools.
But a bigger dropoff comes at the next step in the process.