Mission & History

Mission & History



At Friends Select School, we believe in the Quaker values of respect for all, simplicity, the peaceful resolution of conflict, and a constant search for truth. In the words of George Fox, we seek to teach our students to "walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone." We work to achieve balance between the needs of individuals and our community, in an atmosphere of cooperation and concern for the betterment of all. We value the rich diversity of our urban setting and the opportunities and challenges it provides for the education of our students.

The aim of education is preparation for the whole of life: the vigorous development of intellectual and physical capacities and those of the spirit. Our teaching is structured around these key beliefs—that both direct experience and the young person's developmental needs are central to the learning process, and that learning should be placed at the service of society. Under caring oversight, our students gain the knowledge, skills, and character that will enable them to live full lives.



We were founded to educate students in keeping with the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship.


We trace our roots to the founding of the first Friends school, here in Philadelphia in 1689. Almost 150 years later, in 1833, a committee of men and women from three of the four monthly meetings located in what is now central Philadelphia, charted a Select School for Girls and a Select School for Boys. These were the beginning of Friends Select School as a distinct entity. In 1885, we consolidated our two school locations into a new school building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. We’ve been in the same location ever since.

We were founded to educate students in keeping with the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. The practices of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) are integral to the life of the school. In daily life, we practice peaceful resolution of conflict, community service, inclusion, and respect for all. The school is under the care of two Meetings—the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (at Race Street) and the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia (at Arch Street).

Though Quaker education started in Philadelphia in 1689 and Friends Select has been on the same ground since 1885, we’ve seen many major changes over the years. Programs have adapted to changing technologies, ideas, and perspectives. Our Parkway Building was recently transformed to include a new lower school art studio, classrooms, gender-neutral bathrooms, and an updated rooftop athletic field. Friends Select also recently expanded to create an upper school STEAM Building, where students are empowered to pursue advanced projects in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics as they prepare to become the innovators of tomorrow. We’ve watched Philadelphia grow and mature around us, and we’ve participated in the city’s cultural development. And throughout every change, we continue to prepare students to succeed in all of life’s many adventures.

For more information about Friends Select’s recent transformation, visit our strategic plan, Advance Friends Select.


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