PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Promise has come a long way since first announced by then Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Mark Roosevelt and former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
“We are in the process of making history and putting our great city of Pittsburgh on the national map,” declared Ravenstahl on Dec. 5, 2007.
Funded by $100 million from UPMC, the promise to city parents was that their children — if they attended and did well in Pittsburgh public schools — could get up to $10,000 a year for a four-year college or trade school in Pennsylvania.
“It has the real potential to change this city’s future,” predicted Roosevelt back then.
The idea was to halt the decline in public school enrollment, boost graduation rates, and increase the number of city kids going to college.
It has done all three.
But now, beginning with the class of 2017, the Promise will be scaled back.
“To make sure that this year’s incoming kindergarten class will have a scholarship when they graduate,” said Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Promise, “we will need to reduce the amount of the maximum from $40,000 to $30,000 or $7,500 a year instead of $10,000 a year.”
This will stretch the dollars through 2028 and is still more than received by the first recipients of the Promise.
“We don’t think that $7,500 is anywhere near too low,” said Maxwell King, CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation that works closely with the Promise. “It’s still going to provide the support for thousands and thousands of kids that might not have been able to go to college.”
Already some 5,634 city students have received $64.3 million to attend 101 Pennsylvania institutions.
While some students might be unhappy at the scholarship reduction, Schenley grad Kai Roberts who used the Promise scholarship to attend Carnegie Mellon University, says, “Once they get to college and see how much $7,500 is for a college student, they’ll come around. They’ll see the impact. It’s better than nothing.”
In addition to reducing the maximum scholarship, there are other changes that could affect how much money a student gets. Click here for more information on all the changes.
The program is still about $75 million short of its $250 million fund goal, but these changes guarantee the Promise well into the 2020s.