12 January 2011

Pittsburgh scholarship program offers 'Promise'

Last week, new guest blogger Leigh Dalton wrote about the importance of helping at-risk teens stay on a path to graduation. Around the same time, I came across this article in USA Today about Pittsburgh Promise, a program in Pittsburgh that offers a scholarship worth up to $40,000 over four years to city school students who stay in school and earn good grades.

The program was modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan, a program the YorkCounts' Educational Opportunities Committee considered before deciding to pursue what will open in August as the York Academy Regional Charter School.

The twist with the Pittsburgh effort is in how the fundraising was set up. From the article:
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the region's largest employer, provided $10 million upfront, and said it would match donations up to $90 million over nine years toward a $250 million permanent endowment.
And the kicker - an incentive for the community to join the fundraising:
For every $3 citizens raised, the center said it would chip in $2.
Which led to this:
Residents sprang into action. A group participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon raised about $20,000. Students are planning a springtime Promise Week, including fundraisers and service projects. A letter-writing campaign by parents brought in $5,800. Other parents sponsored a luncheon last year, raising more than $5,000.
 Anybody think York couldn't mobilize a community fundraising effort like that to help keep kids in school and send them to college?

Update, Feb. 16: Pittsburgh Public Schools announced the Promise Program would double its scholarship, from $20,000 to $40,000 per student. Here's Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's reaction, in a statement, as reported by the Web site Urban Media Today.
- Dan Fink

1 comment:

Margaret L. Hughes said...

Pittsburg is a very large city compared to York. Dollars fir Scholars is a step in the right direction. Perhaps if all of York County's industries contributed to this effort, it would be very helpful.
The International Baccalauate School is also a step in the right direction, although it will take 12years to graduate the first class.