updated 9/30/2010 12:46:18 PM ET 2010-09-30T16:46:18

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 30, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Steppingstone Scholars, Inc., a Philadelphia based non-profit organization, has been awarded a $50,000 first time grant from the NASDAQ OMX Education Foundation to support its efforts to develop and implement programs that prepare academically underserved schoolchildren for educational opportunities that lead to college.

"This level of support allows Steppingstone to continue opening doors of opportunity to academically driven students," said Nina Weisbord, Steppingstone Scholars President. "We are so grateful to NASDAQ for their investment in our organization, our Scholars and the future of our region."

The Steppingstone Scholars Program is free of charge for the Scholars and their families. The organization is privately funded and relies solely on the generosity of individuals and institutions like NASDAQ to support its programs.

The NASDAQ OMX Education Foundation, fully funded by The NASDAQ OMX Group Inc., makes semi-annual grants to organizations, institutions, and universities that propose initiatives that provide opportunities to enhance the business and financial communities as well as the local, regional, and national economy.

"Steppingstone Scholars is a promising new partner of the NASDAQ OMX Educational Foundation," said Joan Conley, Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the NASDAQ OMX Group. "NASDAQ OMX has a tradition of supporting entrepreneurial companies that wish to experience long-term growth at a high success rate. Our partnership with Steppingstone Scholars grants that same experience to motivated students who wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity."

The Steppingstone Scholars Program, which follows a two-part model that includes a rigorous Academic Program and a Support Services Program, commenced its 11th class of 44 Scholars from the 14-month academic preparation program this summer. These alumni Scholars will attend various college preparatory schools in the Greater Philadelphia Area, including Abington Friends School, Episcopal Academy, Julia R. Masterman School and William Penn Charter School, among others.

"In 2010, 100% of our Scholars graduated from high school and all of them are enrolled in four-year colleges," said Eddie Mensah, Director of the Scholars Program. "This proves that when given the opportunity and a community of support, motivated students from all backgrounds can succeed."

These alumni Scholars will attend colleges and universities such as American University, Drexel University, Howard University, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others. This year, Steppingstone reached a major milestone with members of the pilot class from 2000 graduating from college.

"Success at these colleges and universities opens doors previously unimagined to our Scholars. By succeeding, both in and out of the classroom, they change their own lives, positively impacting the schools they attend, and open doors for Scholars who follow," said Weisbord.

Students are accepted into the Steppingstone Scholars Program in the fourth-grade. These students who are underserved in their neighborhood schools complete the 14-month academic preparation program that gets them ready for entrance and success at top college-preparatory schools in the Greater Philadelphia Region. Steppingstone also provides comprehensive support services through the 12th grade.  

For more information about Steppingstone Scholars, Inc., visit www.steppingstonescholars.org or call Kendra Kirk, Director of Development at 215-508-5150.

About Steppingstone Scholars, Inc.

Steppingstone Scholars is dedicated to helping educationally underserved students in the Greater Philadelphia Region achieve academic success. Students with the potential and a community of support are prepared for admission to and success at the best public, non-public and independent college preparatory schools through a program of academics, mentoring and support. Steppingstone Scholars works with partner schools to create opportunities that lead to college.

NDAQG

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