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The Keystone State holds us up, laying a strong foundation brick by brick!

When visiting the state of Pennsylvania, the words “Welcome” and “Pursue Your Happiness” ring loudly like the state’s beloved landmark, the Liberty Bell.  These inspiring sentiments from the Keystone State are also echoed in the Act 101 Educational Opportunity Program.  This state-funded program celebrates fifty years of opening the doors of educational opportunity and welcoming individuals to pursue their potential in accessing higher education.  Pennsylvania’s Act 101 Program emulates the symbolism of the Keystone by supporting its neighboring states with their own equal opportunity programs.

Learn more about Pennsylvania’s Act 101 Program, the face of higher education in the Commonwealth, with all of its support services and a large network of dedicated professionals staying connected. The Act 101 Programs are coordinated by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (P.H.E.E.A) Act 101 Program (


Pennsylvania is indebted to Alonzo C. Cavin, Ed.D. and Karl H. Lewis who served as Act 101 Program Directors.

Alonzo Cavin

Dr. Cavin joined the faculty of PMC Colleges in June 1969 as an associate professor of education and the founding director of Project Prepare. He was responsible for helping thousands of disadvantaged students earn college degrees. Project Prepare‘s success made it a model for other colleges and universities, and in 1971, the program inspired Pennsylvania to create the Higher Education Equal Opportunities Act.

Karl Lewis

Dr. Lewis’ work centered largely on ensuring all students were afforded the right to be the best in their profession. From IMPACT students to students in Civil Engineering, he helped everyone the same regardless of race, religion or national origin. As an immigrant in America, he understood the struggles of equal access so he wanted to ensure everyone received the same level of support with the same level of dignity.

Special Thanks

K. Leroy IrvisPennsylvania is honored that K. Leroy Irvis,  the first African American to serve as a speaker of the house in any state legislature,  was dedicated to higher education. His most noted achievements included creating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Equal Opportunity Program, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, and the Minority Business Development Authority. 

Also, Mr. lrvis introduced on the floor of the House the idea of a Community College System in the commonwealth and is credited by his fellow representatives as being the “father of the Community College System. Because of his leadership in the state, his legislation created the University of Pittsburgh as a state-related university.

Read more about Mr. Irvis.