Teachers union gives $10,000 to new city scholarship fund

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The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers donated $10,000 to the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program yesterday as school Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl called on others to step forward with contributions.

The teachers' contribution was the first to the scholarship fund, a city-school district partnership launched in December. "We don't really even have an account set up," Mr. Roosevelt said at the union's South Side offices.

Beginning in 2008, all graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools would receive help planning for college and finding financial aid. They'd also get a certain amount, perhaps $5,000 a year, toward undergraduate tuition.

The teachers' donation is a fraction of the several million dollars the district annually will need to operate the program. But union President John Tarka said his members wanted to show support for a "valuable and important effort."

"We've always been very committed to the success of the Pittsburgh Public Schools system," he said.

Mr. Roosevelt said contributions from all corners of the community will be needed to sustain the program. Mr. Ravenstahl agreed, saying, "It's about the corporate community. It's about individuals."

Flanking Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Ravenstahl yesterday were a handful of students who stand to benefit from the program.

Charlynn White, a junior at Perry Traditional Academy on the North Side who'd like to study biochemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said some students don't know where to look for financial aid.

"A program like this will encourage people to do more in school," she said.

Joe Smydo can be reached at jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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