Thursday, July 1, 2010
In its first two years of awarding scholarships the Pittsburgh Promise has given away $8 million to nearly 17-hundred students attending 46 different schools in Pennsylvania. Another 750 students are expected to grab a scholarship this year. Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril says in those same two years the percentage of kids graduating from Pittsburgh public schools has increased to rates that are nearing the average rate for schools in Pennsylvania suburbs. If 95 Pittsburgh Public School seniors finish their course work this summer the graduation rate for 2009-2010 will stand at 71%. Ghubril says a recent study by CEOs for Cities shows Pittsburgh’s economy would grow by $1.8 billion annually if the percentage of residents with a college education grew by one percent from the current 27.6%. “That is an extra 16,500 college educated people, which the Pittsburgh Promise can deliver in the next ten years,” says Ghubril, “which does not seem terribly aspirational to me.” Pittsburgh Foundation President Grant Oliphant says he became interested in the Pittsburgh Promise because it had big goals. “They made this not just about a ‘scholarship,’ but about the kids, and how we transform the future of a community by helping all of our kids to do better in school,” says Oliphant.
On the money front, Ghubril says fundraising for the Pittsburgh Promise is doing well. The goal is to raise $250 million over ten years. That would allow the program to pay out funds to current students and still sustain the program for the next “32 to 36 years.” Last year $11.3 million was added to the fund through private, corporate and foundation giving. UPMC has committed $100 million to the Promise in the form of a $1.00 for every $1.50 raised grant.
Listen to much of Saleem Ghubril's 2009-2010 Pittsburgh Promise Report Card.