PFS Enrollment Lottery
by Michelle Loucas

PFS Enrollment Lottery

The Philly Free School is again opening slots for Lottery Winners!  The PFS Enrollment Lottery is an opportunity for new, eligible students to enroll at the Philly Free School (PFS) and pay ZERO tuition for up to four (4) years.

Below is a Q & A on how the PFS Enrollment Lottery works. Spread the word!

Q: Why is the Philly Free School offering Lottery-based admissions slots?

PFS created the lottery system in response to the educational crisis in Philadelphia. As schools in both the public and private systems close their doors, families face increasingly difficult enrollment choices.  PFS seeks to increase educational options for Philadelphians by allowing families to access our unique tuition-based school at no cost.

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Q: Who is supporting this initiative?

PFS is pursuing the involvement of a number of community partners who share our commitment to providing powerful educational options for Philadelphia youth. Individuals or organizations are welcome to support the endeavor singly or in collaboration. PFS will leverage each gift to build more support for the program. If you know of an individual or business who would like to partner with us, please write to Thank you!

Q: Who is eligible to participate in the Lottery?

Students between the ages of 7-16 who are currently enrolled in Philadelphia School District Schools are eligible to enter the Lottery system. Families must attend an Open House/Lottery Information Session before they may apply, and complete all steps of the regular Admissions process. For the 2018 Lottery, applicants who have not yet attended an Open House must attend on May 3rd. RSVP here

Q: How do I apply to the Lottery?

After attending an Open House/Lottery Information Session, families must complete an Enrollment Application and clearly state on it that they are interested in a Lottery slot. Applications must be received by noon on June 1st.

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Q: When will winners be chosen?

Winners will be chosen from the pool of eligible candidates by early July. For selected students to take advantage of a Lottery slot, their families must also satisfy the requirements of the regular Admissions process. Click here for more about Admissions.

Q: How can I get more information?

Contact the school at or 215-218-9586. Click here for Enrollment Procedures, and here for an Admissions Application. Applications can be submitted electronically, or mailed to 2001 Christian St, Philadelphia, PA, 19146. 

A Conversation With Peter Gray
by Michelle Loucas

A Conversation With Peter Gray

On January 31, 2018, Dr. Peter Gray spoke at the Philly Free School on: "Learning Through Play: How Children's Natural Curiosity, Playfulness, and Sociability Serve Their Education."  The sold-out event drew a large, engaged crowd. Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Peter describes what he focussed on here:

"Children come into the world exquisitely designed by natural selection to learn about the physical, social, and cultural world around them. In this talk--based on cross-cultural research, laboratory studies, and my own research at alternative educational settings in the United States--I will describe how children's instincts to explore, play, and bond with others provide the natural foundation for education. I will also describe the conditions in which these educative instincts seem to operate best." 

If you missed it, watch this video of Dr. Gray's talk on the same topic at the Arts & Ideas Sudbury School in Baltimore.


This free talk was co-sponsored by the Philly Free School and Smith Memorial Playground

Free To Learn Free To Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

A short bio of Peter:

Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally used introductory psychology textbook (now in its 7th edition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective.  Much of his research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so.  He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine and is president of the nonprofit Alliance for Self-Directed Education.