Pittsburgh Promise makes Wilkinsburg students eligible for scholarships
December 13, 2016 11:51 PM
Seniors pose for a photograph with Jason Boll, an English teacher, before commencement at Wilkinsburg High School in June.
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wilkinsburg seniors attending Pittsburgh Westinghouse 6-12 now have a chance to be part of the “Promise family.”
The Pittsburgh Promise board voted unanimously Tuesday to make Wilkinsburg students attending the Homewood school eligible for its scholarship.
Executive director Saleem Ghubril said it used, in part, Mount Oliver’s arrangement with the district as a rationale to deviate from the Promise charter, which requires both city residency and enrollment in Pittsburgh Public Schools. While Mount Oliver has its own municipal government, the only public school option for children there is Pittsburgh Public, and they are Promise-eligible.
“Not only do we feel that this is the right thing to do for Wilkinsburg students, but we have taken similar action in the past,” he said in a news release, adding in an interview: “We used that as a precedent and a parallel and felt we could apply that here.”
Further, a component of the Promise is to encourage and stabilize enrollment, he continued, and “growth can happen organically and through mergers and partnerships.”
Wilkinsburg superintendent Linda Iverson said in a email the decision “provides more evidence of the ongoing, great partnership between both districts to help all students and families plan, prepare and pay for education beyond high school.”
For months before the vote, Coro Next Neighborhood Leaders of Wilkinsburg was working behind the scenes on a solution, too, said Klara Brown, a member of the group and the Wilkinsburg school board vice president. The group met several times with the Pittsburgh Promise over the past year, had identified a “potential donor” to cover “Wilkinsburg Promise” scholarships for the Class of 2017 and are planning additional fundraising to support scholarships for Wilkinsburg students.
“We believe it is just and equitable that Wilkinsburg kids who study and apply themselves should be eligible to earn the same scholarships as their Pittsburgh classmates. ... We welcome news that Wilkinsburg students will now be eligible for the Pittsburgh Promise and we will continue to develop the pool of resources available to Wilkinsburg students,” she said in a statement.
How many of the 18 Wilkinsburg seniors currently attending Westinghouse are Promise-eligible wasn’t immediately clear. Students can receive a maximum of $30,000 over a four-year period.
“This decision aligns with our mission to see Pittsburgh Public Schools’ graduates to and through their post-secondary education, and will provide hard-working Wilkinsburg students with the same opportunity as their classmates,” Promise chair Franco Harris said in the release.
Around 200 students from Wilkinsburg began attending Westinghouse this fall as part of a six-year pact with PPS.
Said Pittsburgh Public superintendent Anthony Hamlet, also a Promise board member, “Thanks to the generosity of two anonymous donors and the unanimous decision of The Pittsburgh Promise Board, the Promise is now real for Wilkinsburg students. ... Our Wilkinsburg students can now know that they have the same opportunities as their classmates. As we build our five-year strategic plan, we are committed to developing the programs and initiatives that will ensure we reach our vision of all students graduating high school on course to be eligible for a Promise scholarship.”
In related news, city Councilman Corey O’Connor Tuesday proposed $60,000 in city funding for a grant program that may soon offer businesses extra incentive to hire Pittsburgh Promise alumni.
Molly Born: email@example.com or 412-263-1944. Staff writer Adam Smeltz contributed.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.