PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new study by the Rand Corporation found that the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is off to a solid start in its early years.
Today administrators of the Pittsburgh Promise gave a status update of its own on the participants, educators and families who are involved in the program.
The Pittsburgh Promise will pay up to $40,000 for a college education for any Pittsburgh Public School student who qualifies for the program.
One of those recipients was Vanessa Thompson, a 2008 graduate of Westinghouse High School who is now a senior at Chatham College, preparing to graduate.
“It helped to know that so many people cared about me,” Thompson added. “People that didn’t know me from anywhere.”
By the fall, 3200 Pittsburgh Public School graduates will have received financial assistance from the Promise program since 2008.
“We have some young people that are going to be coming out of college this next spring — some of whom, without the Promise, may not have been able to do that,” Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane explained.
Executive Director Saleem Ghuvril says $25,000,000 has been spent on scholarships. He says the program has 74 million of 147 million in pledges — with UPMC leading the way.
“This is community wide,” Ghuvril explained, “and we’re seeing it at every level from those who are able to give us as little as $2 or $3 — and they know that their $2 or $3 leverages some match from UPMC and then those who have pledged to us $30 million.”
But the program is far from satisfied with early results. Forty-one percent of the participants are African-American students, who make up 57-percent of the district.
“It appears that all feet are pointed in the right direction toward high school completion, college completion, and we hope eventually return to Pittsburgh to be part of the local workforce,“ Ghuvril adds.
The Pittsburgh Promise has also been getting some national attention. A national conference will be held here in Pittsburgh next month with educators from other cities who are interested in starting a similar program in their own communities.