Penn has set forth an extraordinary goal: to ensure that outstanding students can experience the full breadth of a Penn education regardless of their financial or family circumstances. Now in its third full year, Penn First Plus is expanding this commitment even further and creates a more inclusive environment for our students. Penn First Plus provides a comprehensive, multifaceted program to ensure students who are first in their families to attend college and those who come from limited-income backgrounds can access a Penn education and thrive. Through Penn First Plus, an umbrella of financial, academic, and social supports combine to provide scholarship funding, alleviate ancillary educational costs, and help students benefit from all that Penn has to offer. In addition to this cadre of supports and resources, the Shleifer Family Penn First Plus Center provides a physical hub for students and a place of community in the heart of campus.
This year, one in six incoming freshmen represent the first generation in their family to attend college—and students who are first generation and/or from limited-income communities comprise more than a quarter of the Class of 2026—making the work of Penn First Plus incredibly important.
A Transformational Gift for Penn First Plus
Thanks to a pivotal $18 million gift from Scott, W’99 and Elena Shleifer, Penn First Plus will be able to increase its support and critical resources for undergraduate students. In recognition of their magnificent philanthropy, our campus home for Penn First Plus students will be named the Shleifer Family Penn First Plus Center.
An important component of the Shleifers’ gift will expand financial aid, the cornerstone of Penn First Plus. To inspire additional support, the Shleifers have created a unique challenge fund that will offer a match to donors who establish endowments for Penn First Plus initiatives.
Beyond the most generous and comprehensive financial aid, Penn First Plus provides students from first generation and modest income backgrounds with academic support, tailored resources, and a physical hub on campus.
Dedicated Space: The Shleifer family penn first plus center
The Center provides a space for students to meet with Penn First Plus professional staff, access programming, and congregate with peers.
A sense of belonging: the pre-freshman program
The Pre-Freshman Program has proven integral to new students for creating a sense of belonging and providing students with a foundation for success.
STUDENT ADVOCATES: Faculty co-directors
Faculty Co-Directors serve as a vital bridge between students in Penn First Plus and academic departments.
Strengthening the Student Experience
Penn First Plus makes enriching elements of the undergraduate experience more accessible for students who are from first generation and modest income backgrounds.
Incoming students provided with laptops to use throughout their time at Penn.
Students experiencing temporary financial hardships are eligible for support.
Summer Opportunity Funds
Students can take courses over the summer at Penn or participate in opportunities which would otherwise be out of reach, such as internships, research, or study abroad.
Dedicated funding for students to access professional development opportunities and support career transition costs.
Ways to Support Penn First Plus
The Shleifer Family Challenge
The Shleifer Family Challenge encourages endowed support for highly aided students in the Penn First Plus community who qualify for enhanced financial aid packages.
A commitment of $750,000 can be matched with $250,000 to create a $1,000,000 Penn First Plus Opportunity Endowment.
A commitment of $400,000 can be matched with $100,000 to create a $500,000 Penn First Plus Opportunity Endowment.
These endowments will fund students to take summer courses, pursue internships, join a research team, engage in service learning, or study abroad.
Penn First Plus Opportunity Endowments
Opportunity endowments may be established with a minimum commitment of $250,000 and can be designated by undergraduate school. Commitments of $400,000 and above are eligible for the Shleifer Family Challenge match.
Penn First Plus Technology Awards
An endowment of $1 million will fund a significant portion of the laptops provided to highly aided Penn First Plus students.
Penn First Plus Career Launch Funds
Career Launch Endowments of $1 million offer important resources for students to access professional development opportunities and support career transition costs upon graduation.
Additional naming opportunities are available for donors who wish to make an impact with a gift over $5 million. Contact Maryann O’Leary Salas, Executive Director of Development for Undergraduate Financial Aid and Penn First Plus, for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commitments may be paid over five years. Qualifying gifts to Undergraduate Financial Aid and Penn First Plus will be recognized by The Penn Fund, Undergraduate Reunions, and the Benjamin Franklin Society.
The Fund for Penn First Plus
Gifts of any size to this fund will provide essential resources to support the priority initiatives at the heart of Penn First Plus. Qualifying commitments will be recognized by The Penn Fund, undergraduate reunions, and the Benjamin Franklin Society.
At Penn, I have become someone who's constantly expanding my horizons and trying to learn more. To me— as a student whose parents didn’t attend college —that's really powerful.