Pittsburgh Promise looks to bring its grads back to city

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For Jahmiah Guillory, a student at Penn State University, finding a job in Pittsburgh after graduation is a priority.

It's the city where he grew up, living in Northview Heights and graduating in 2009 from Pittsburgh Oliver High School. And it's the city that made him a promise, putting $20,000 toward his college education.

That's a big reason, when the 21-year-old graduates in December with a degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering, it's the city to which he plans to return.

"I know that the area that I come from is a difficult community, and I want to see this area grow," Mr. Guillory said. "I want to try to influence youth that there are other opportunities out there."

He explored some of those opportunities Friday, taking part in a career training workshop hosted by the Pittsburgh Promise at the Rivers Club, Downtown.

The Pittsburgh Promise, when it gives a student such as Mr. Guillory a scholarship, is making a commitment to providing more than just money for higher education, said Saleem Ghubril, the group's executive director.

It's making a promise to transform public education, to improve neighborhoods and finally to help students who receive scholarships pursue careers in Pittsburgh.

"We wanted our young people to come back to Pittsburgh, be a part of growing the city and bring their talent into the workforce of our region," Mr. Ghubril said.

The career workshop Friday was a tool to help fulfill the final part of the promise.

During the daylong session, more than 200 college students who have been recipients of Pittsburgh Promise scholarships attended to conduct mock interviews; listen to local company representatives discuss jobs in sectors including energy, business and marketing; and participate in a networking lunch and job and internship fair.

The Pittsburgh Promise, which provides scholarships of up to $40,000 per student to graduates of city high schools and approved charter schools, has helped 3,700 students since 2008, Mr. Ghubril said, and about 200 of those students have returned to the Pittsburgh area, taking jobs with local companies.

The Promise, which held its first career workshop last June, wants to increase those numbers by giving more students job-searching skills and more Pittsburgh-based employers the opportunity to hire its graduates.

"We wanted to be really deliberate, really intentional, about building a pipeline that connects our students with our region's companies, many of which are investors in the Promise anyway," Mr. Ghubril said. "And we told our investors, donors to the Promise, 'Listen, you have helped send these kids to college. Don't you want to be the first to interview them?' "

education - neigh_city

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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