Pittsburgh Public schools accepts Heinz Endowments grant for 'We Promise'

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The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools has accepted a $200,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments for the "We Promise" program, which is aimed at improving academic achievement for African-American male students.

The goal of "We Promise" is to help more students become eligible for Pittsburgh Promise scholarships, which offer up to $40,000 to those with 2.5 grade point averages and 90 percent attendance in high school.

"We Promise" began in January and involved 159 students -- mostly high school juniors -- who were close to meeting Promise standards.

Of the 159, 13 met the Promise standards and were considered Promise ready at the end of 11th grade. There were 74 students whose grade point averages increased and 57 whose attendance records improved.

Overall, the grade point average for all "We Promise" students increased by 0.026 from 10th grade to 11th grade.

In 2011-12, only 18 percent of African-American male high school seniors were Promise ready, compared with 68 percent of white students and 34 percent of African-American females.

The grant was one of several accepted by the board, including $485,081 from the Grable Foundation for arts education transformation; $63,434 from the Heinz Endowments via the Arts Education Collaborative for arts education; and $60,242 from the Grable Foundation for a professional development project at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5.

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Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1955 or on Twitter: @Eleanor_Chute.


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