City schools to promise college funds for good students

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Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, left, listens as Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt talks about "The Pittsburgh Promise," an initiative unveiled this morning that will provide financial assistance to help the district's graduates pay for college.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools is issuing what it calls "The Pittsburgh Promise," pledging that starting in 2008, all graduates who meet certain standards will have the means of getting post-secondary education.

Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said today that details are still being hammered out by several committees, but the district and the city hope to raise $5 million to $7 million a year to make college or other post-secondary education affordable. To access the money, students will have to attend a city public school, do their work, stay out of trouble, and graduate.

"We are absolutely 100 percent committed to making this happen, and we will make it happen," Mr. Roosevelt said.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who appeared with Mr. Roosevelt to announce the initiative in the Mayor's Office, will be involved in fund raising. The two said foundations and corporations are logical sources for the money.

"It's going to take big ideas and big thoughts to turn this city around," the mayor said. "That's what this is."

"This represents an unparalled level of cooperation between the school district and the city, to shape this city's future," Mr. Roosevelt said.

The district's High School Task Force is already working on details of the program, and committees on fund raising and planning will joint the effort, he said.

A similar program exists in Kalamazoo, Mich., and has boosted school enrollment and home sales, the mayor said. They emphasized that the effort here would be tailored to Pittsburgh.


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