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Pennsylvania History

Having a reverence for the history of the Act 101 Program not only connects the past with the present but continues to pave the future of opportunity in the lives of those accessing higher education in the Commonwealth.

Take a moment to reflect upon our past Keystone colleagues, pioneers, and champions of the cause to ensure equal educational opportunity for Pennsylvania residents. 

You will begin to discover how the Act 101 Program’s story continues to be deeply rooted in the work we do on behalf of students. The Program’s existence today is best understood by remembering the significant individuals and events in the Act 101 Program’s history, especially as we serve as catalysts in changing students’ lives through academic achievement.

Pennsylvania 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. Read more about Mr. Irvis.

To learn more about the evolution of the Act 101 Program’s remarkable history; its timeline of commitment to safeguarding Pennsylvania’s residents’ access to higher education, visit the PHEAA website.