To the traditional strains of "Pomp and Circumstance," graduating classes march at this time of year to receive their college degrees. In Pittsburgh, the cheers for the students also should honor the program that helped some of them extend their education and widen their worlds beyond their dreams.
The Pittsburgh Promise has kept its promise. This year marks the first college graduating class of the scholarship fund for city public school students. As the rules now stand, if city students have at least a 2.5 grade point average and 90 percent attendance in high school, they are promised at least $10,000 a year for post-secondary education for four years if they then keep a 2.0 GPA. (The Class of 2008 had to have a high school GPA of 2.0 for $5,000 a year.)
As Post-Gazette reporter Mary Niederberger found in a recent story that put names to previously unheralded success stories, the hundreds of members of the high school Class of 2008 included students in various family situations -- from the better-off who found the grants helpful to those from low-income families who found them indispensable.
The Promise has now paid out $25 million over four years to 3,200 students. And the program is getting better. The Class of 2008 could use their scholarships at only a limited number of schools, but now the choices are expanded.
When Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and then city schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt proposed the idea in late 2006, it seemed less a promise than a hope. The fact that it succeeded owes much to the initial $10 million pledged by UPMC Health Systems plus $90 million in matching funds over 10 years ($25.7 million subsequently has come from those matching funds).
Judged by the smiling faces of graduating students, some of them the first in their families to go to college, the Pittsburgh Promise has succeeded. Congratulations to those who conceived of it, those who support it financially and those who studied hard to justify the promise made to them.opinion_editorials
First Published May 8, 2012 12:00 AM