History of the Charles E. Ellis Trust

Charles E. EllisBorn in 1835 in Philadelphia to Quaker parents, Charles E. Ellis grew up to be a trolley franchise operator, and made his fortune through a horse-drawn trolley company in the Philadelphia area. Upon his death in 1909, he left the bulk of his sizable estate to establish a school for fatherless girls in Newtown Square. When the school closed in 1977, nearly 1,400 girls had graduated — most of whom went on to have fulfilling careers.

Several years after the school closed, the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court established a new mission for the Charles E. Ellis Trust: to provide grants to Philadelphia high school girls in single-parent households who were in need of aid to complete their education.

In 1995, The Ellis Fund Advisory Committee and the Trustee, PNC Bank N.A., selected White-Williams Scholars to administer the Trust. In July 2011, White-Williams Scholars and Philadelphia Futures merged to strengthen their shared mission of providing educational support to underserved students in Philadelphia. Recently in December of 2022, Philadelphia Futures has merged with Steppingstone Scholars to become Heights Philadelphia. Heights Philadelphia is now the administrator for The Ellis Trust.

The Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls helps eligible young women living in low-income, single-parent households achieve their goals through education. The Trust annually awards Ellis Tuition Assistance Grants to high school students in need of tuition aid, and Ellis Enrichment Grants to cover a range of high-impact enrichment programs and basic school needs (e.g. school supplies, uniforms and basic apparel).

Success Stories

“This summer for a month I was given the great opportunity to stay on Spelman’s campus and take a major. By taking and passing the major I selected, I was able to gain 4 college credits.

I was able to live in a quad with three other people and meet many amazing women from all over the United States. The class itself was rigorous but fun and taught me a lot about the [human] anatomy.  Not only was it just work and studying, we also went on many field trips! I was able to see Dr. Martin Luther King’s house and his museum. Being able to live on the college of my dreams was so exciting and I enjoyed the fact that I was able to be independent. Overall I had an amazing time at Spelman and I will definitely recommend this program to anyone!”

–  William W. Bodine High School Student, ‘20


“I wanted to thank you again for really helping with preparing for school and I wanted you to know what this program provides is not taken for granted. It really helps and take a load off my mother’s back.”

– The People for People Charter School Student, ‘20 


“I wanted to let you know that [my students] loved their experience at Villanova this summer. They spoke highly of the program and plan to attend again next year. Thank you for partnering with Ellis Trust! This opportunity meant a lot to the girls and I believe helped change the trajectory of their futures.”

– Teacher and proud supporter of The Ellis Trust for Girls

“Ellis Trust opened doors that I never knew existed. With that, I was able to enhance my studies, especially in the college process when I had tutoring covered for SAT prep, one that I could never afford without. In doing so, this became one of many ways Ellis Trust was able to support me in my growth as a scholar and now incoming freshman at Stanford University.”

Philadelphia High School for Girls Student, ‘19


“With The Ellis Trust grants and funding, I was able to attend my first-choice high school”

– John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School Student, ‘19


“The Ellis Trust introduced me to a lot of amazing programs that I participated in throughout high school to help prepare me for future goals.”

–  George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science Student ‘19

Contact Us

You can contact The Ellis Trust directly by emailing ellis@heights.org or request information about our grants.

Shanise Redmon, Manager of Ellis Trust:
(215) 790-1666 X 427

Hana Mura, Director of Ellis Trust:
(215) 790-1666 X 442

Teachers, Counselors & Community-Based Organizations

If you are a teacher, a high school guidance counselor or work with an organization that serves young women, we need your help. Your daily work with Philadelphia-area girls puts you in a unique position to reach students who may be eligible for an Ellis Trust grant. If you know of any young women who meet our eligibility requirements, please encourage them to apply. Our aim is to provide as many girls as possible with the resources and opportunities that will prepare them for success in their college and career endeavors.