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Center for Inclusive Education and Scholarship

The Center for Inclusive Education and Scholarship (CIES) provides support for programs which serve traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations. The goal of this center is to support the academic experience of Drexel students, from pre-college access programs to graduation and beyond.

Guiding Principles


Empowering a community of scholars


CIES serves as a conduit to increase access to higher education for students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status; foster an inclusive community of scholars striving to achieve academic excellence; and graduate students empowered to impact change.


  • We employ a holistic approach to student development and wellness, ensuring academic and social success.
  • We cultivate academic excellence and persistence by teaching a growth mindset and self-advocacy.
  • We work to understand student needs and provide or make connections with resources to support them.
  • We inspire a culture of sharing knowledge and resources to improve communities.
  • We empower the larger University community on issues of inclusivity and cultural competency.

Pre-College Programs

Aramark Ignite

An initiative funded by the Aramark Corporation to energize the classrooms of select Philadelphia high schools, thereby increasing workforce skills, high school graduation rates and post-secondary success of participating students. This program connects several of Aramark’s Philadelphia higher education and healthcare partners with community-based organizations, and is led by the Urban League of Philadelphia in an effort to create a high school-based enrichment program focused on career exposure to the food services and facility management industries, mentoring and building 21st-century skills.

Learn More About Aramark Ignite


CAPTIVATE 6.7.8 is designed to capture the imagination of middle school students and inspire them to plan for college and consider future STEM careers. CAPTIVATE launched at Drexel in May of 2016 with six middle schools from Philadelphia’s Promise Zone in attendance, and has grown since in participation and reach. The event is a half-day program with hands-on STEM activities under the guidance of faculty, staff, and current students in STEM fields and includes a campus tour. It is typically held in the spring of each year.

College Access Academy at Drexel University

This one-week, residential summer program is designed to assist rising high school juniors and seniors through the college selection and admissions processes. Interactive workshops are offered on topics including selecting a right-fit college, choosing a major, SAT preparation, essay writing, interview skills, financing a college education, and more. Underrepresented and underserved high school students of color and first-generation students from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Washington, D.C. are invited to participate in the Academy. The capstone of the week is when students leave with a list of right-fit schools to visit and apply to in their senior year of high school.

Learn More About the College Access Academy

Diversity Luncheon

Knowing that interactions with different groups enhances the Drexel experience, this luncheon for admitted Drexel students is a celebration of diversity and the University's commitment to a community of, and respect for, underrepresented students, women in STEM, and allies for the cause of diversity, equity, and social justice. Admitted students who fit the luncheon's criteria are invited to participate during Drexel's April Admitted Students Days.

Future Ventures: Entrepreneurship Seminar for Young Men

Desiring to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and actively live the mission of the Charles D. Close School, this one-day program is designed to help underrepresented and underserved young men of color in the city of Philadelphia to be entrepreneurial thinkers and doers, preparing them to meet the world market on solid footing and to create their own opportunities. In this interactive seminar, concepts of social entrepreneurship, tech entrepreneurship, and art and design entrepreneurship will be on display with current Drexel student entrepreneurs presenting their companies. The inaugural event will be held in spring of 2021.

High School Scholars

The High School Scholars Program is a highly selective program that allows high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to register for college courses — on a space-available basis — at Drexel University's University City Campus while completing high school. High school students in the Greater Philadelphia area are eligible to apply to the Drexel High School Scholars Program once they have completed their first year of high school.

Learn more about High School Scholars

In-Residence: An Overnight Experience for Admitted Students of Color

The In-Residence program is intended to give admitted Drexel students of color an authentic and unscripted experience of what it will be like to be a member of our campus community. Participants eat in the Handschumacher Dining Center, attend an on-campus event, meet current students who are happy to share their thoughts and opinions about Drexel, and spend the night in a residence hall. The goal is for students to leave with answers to many of the questions they may have and return home knowing whether Drexel is a good fit or not. Admitted students who fit the program criteria will be invited to participate during the month of April.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement's STEP To Success Program is a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia, Junior Achievement of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Drexel University. The goal of the program is to help 3rd graders learn the importance of higher education. When the program was founded in the fall of 2017, it had an impact on over 660 students from nine schools over two days.  The program includes a kick-off “you can go to college” pep rally and a campus tour.

Learn More About Junior Achievement

STEM Conference for Young Women

Understanding the importance of exposing young women to college and STEM careers, the STEM Conference is a collaboration between Drexel and the Camden, New Jersey-based non-profit organization, Women of the Dream. Historically underrepresented and underserved young women of color from Philadelphia and Camden are invited each year to partake in the conference, which includes hands-on STEM activities under the guidance of professionals, faculty, and current students in STEM fields; a panel discussion featuring professional women of color in STEM careers; and a college access workshop discussing the high school preparation that it takes to pursue a STEM major in college. The event is typically held in the spring of each year.

Learn More About Women of the Dream

Current Drexel Student Programs

Act 101: Pennsylvania Higher Education Opportunity Program

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Equal Opportunity Program (also known as Act 101) was created in 1971 in response to the needs of academically and financially disadvantaged Pennsylvania residents who were effectively denied the opportunity to pursue a higher education due to prevailing social conditions. To be eligible, current undergraduate students need to meet a few academic and economic criteria, as well as maintain primary residence in Pennsylvania. Act 101 services include utilizing the lending library, transition programming, academic coaching, peer-mentoring, tutoring, and developmental activities.

Learn More About Act 101

Dragon Navigators

The Dragon Navigator Program (DNP) was created in 2015 to provide a community of support at Drexel for students from underrepresented populations, including students who identify as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander. Through the network created within the program, students have the opportunity to connect with the various student organizations and academic resources on campus, as well as participate in workshops and other activities throughout the year. Events are hosted by various departments and organizations at Drexel and within the larger Philadelphia community. First-year students are connected to upperclass peer mentors.

Learn More About Dragon Navigators

Dragons Prep

The Dragons Prep program prepares first-year students for the transition from high school to college by providing higher-level academic skills and strong peer networks through participation in a diverse learning community centered on academic excellence. By cultivating the talents and proficiencies of DSP participants, students are empowered to navigate the University environment, utilize systems and resources that support success, and maximize involvement in the diverse and vibrant Drexel campus.

Learn More About Dragon Scholars

First Forward: Drexel's First-Generation Program

First Forward brings together members of the Drexel community who are working to ensure that first-generation college students are supported and recognized for the unique insights and experiences that they bring with them to campus. Drexel University defines first-generation college students as those whose parents/guardians do not have a four-year college degree. First Forward provides resources for first-generation faculty/staff, students, and their families, and hosts events throughout the year.

Learn More About First Forward

THRIVE: Students of Color Early Move-in Empowerment Retreat

THRIVE: Students of Color Early Move-in Empowerment Retreat is designed to empower new undergraduate students of historically underrepresented minorities to excel, find their voice, and take their seat at the table in the Drexel community. Students are prepared for the upcoming year by attending workshops in order to discover Drexel’s commitment to and learn about resources supporting diversity and inclusion; develop the skill set of self-advocacy, resiliency, and handling implicit and explicit biases; and gain a network of current students, faculty, and administrators of color. The event is held the week before Welcome Week each fall.

Learn More About Thrive

Scholarships Supported by the Center

The awarding of these scholarships is managed externally. Once students are awarded scholarships, we work to build a community and ensure they continue to meet the requirements needed to remain eligible.

Delaware Valley Science Fair Winners Scholarship

Drexel University offers incoming students partial-tuition scholarships for placement in the Drexel-sponsored Delaware Valley Science Fair. These scholarships are renewable for future years of a student's undergraduate degree program for the terms they are registered for classes (for a total of 12 academic class terms) provided that they maintain a 2.75 cumulative GPA and full-time status. The scholarship is not available during co-op terms. To be considered for Drexel's Delaware Valley Science Fair Winners Scholarship, applicants must submit a complete admission application and have been a Drexel-selected winner of the Delaware Valley Science Fair the summer before they plan to enter Drexel.

Learn More About Delaware Valley Science Fair Scholarship

Drexel Exelon Scholars

This collaboration between Drexel and Exelon serves women and underrepresented minorities in STEM, particularly in the engineering fields. Scholars are provided both scholarship funding and networking opportunities with Exelon professionals. Once they have the award, students need to apply for co-op at Exelon and attend the PECO luncheon.

Drexel Global Scholar Program

The Drexel Global Scholar program recognizes a select number of incoming international students with exceptional academic achievement and an outstanding commitment to global leadership and international community building. The program encourages the active involvement of participants in valuable, peer-based mentorship and leadership development opportunities as well as team-building activities and civic engagement. Since its founding in 2012, the Drexel Global Scholar program has welcomed more than 80 international students from nearly 40 countries. International first-year applicants are eligible to apply during the admissions process prior to enrollment at Drexel.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and the Pennsylvania departments of Education (PDE), Human Services (DHS), and Labor & Industry (L&I), the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program allows eligible students who have been served by the foster care system to receive a university education, build a network of support, and graduate with minimal debt.

Learn more about the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

Intel Science and Engineering Fair Winners Scholarship

Drexel University offers full-tuition scholarships to select incoming students who are winners of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The scholarship is renewable for future years of a student's undergraduate degree program for the terms they are registered for classes (a total of 12 academic class terms; the scholarship is not available during terms of co-op) provided that they maintain a 2.75 cumulative GPA and full-time status. In order to be considered for Drexel's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair scholarship, applicants must submit a complete admission application by January 15 and have been selected to receive this scholarship among the winners at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair the summer before they plan to enter Drexel.

Learn More About Intel Science and Engineering Scholarship

Liberty Scholars

The Drexel Liberty Scholars program was established to continue Drexel University's over 120-year tradition of providing quality education to Philadelphians without restrictions on religion, race, gender, or social class and to reaffirm our commitment to diversity, inclusion, social justice, and engaging with the communities that make up the city. The program has now been expanded to provide 65 recent high school graduates from across the nation with a renewable scholarship award that covers 100 percent of tuition and fees. Additionally, the program fosters student success through a dedicated faculty or staff mentor, a Living Learning Community in which all scholars live during their first two years, extracurricular and developmental programming, and active engagement with campus life.

Learn More About Liberty Scholars

Maguire Scholars

Drexel University and the Maguire Foundation offer scholarships to incoming first-year students who have been active participants in high schools partnering with the Maguire Foundation. Students apply through Discover Drexel during the admission process. Upon selection, students must maintain a full-time academic status and maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. Students must also participate in community service and extracurricular activities. This scholarship is renewable through undergraduate completion.

Learn More About Maguire Scholars

Schleyer Scholars

The Schleyer Scholars Program fund provides awards for high-potential, economically disadvantaged undergraduates. Ten scholarships are awarded annually, and are renewable through graduation as long as students continue to meet requirements. Awards can cover up to 25 percent of the cost of attending Drexel. Students of all majors are eligible but the cohort must include at least one engineering student. Schleyer Scholars are eligible for additional services (academic support, mentoring, etc.) to help ensure their success as Drexel students.

W.W. Smith Scholars

Each year, the W.W. Smith Scholarship is made available by the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust to full-time students who are residents of the following Pennsylvania counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia, as well as the city of Camden, New Jersey. In addition, students must have achieved a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. Final selections are made by Drexel based on academic achievement and financial need.

External Programs

The Center for Inclusive Education and Scholarship supports students who are members of the following non-Drexel programs: