The Pittsburgh Promise and Community College of Allegheny County are piloting a program that gives scholarship assistance to city students who graduated high school with grade point averages below the minimum required to qualify for the Promise.
About a half dozen students are enrolled in the program now, Saleem Ghubril, Promise executive director, said this morning at a dropout prevention summit.
To qualify for Promise scholarships last school year, high school seniors had to have a cumulative grade average of at least 2.25. Under the test program at CCAC, scholarships are being provided to students whose high school grade averages were between 2.0 and 2.24. They are taking a required series of courses this semester, paid for by Promise funds.
If they pass these courses with a minimum grade average of 2.0, the Promise will pay for them to take whatever courses they want at CCAC next semester. If they complete the second semester with a grade average of at least 2.0, they will qualify for the regular Promise scholarship program at dozens of schools statewide.
The Promise, set up by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, provides students with up to $20,000 for college over four years. The money used at CCAC would be part of that maximum amount.
Mr. Ghubril said the program would be expanded for the class of 2010, whose members must have a minimum grade average of 2.5 to qualify for the regular program. He said those students enrolled in the special program would need grade averages between 2.0 and 2.49.
The announcement of the CCAC program came at a summit that Mr. Ravenstahl and Pittsburgh Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt kicked off this morning. It is one of more than 100 nationwide sponsored by the America's Promise Alliance, a nonprofit group affiliated with retired Gen. Colin Powell.
The daylong event at the Downtown YWCA is designed to bring city school and civic leaders together to develop a plan to address the city's 35 percent dropout rate. The plan will be finalized later in the day.
The discussion will also include a question and answer session with dropouts.
America's Promise Alliance says nearly one in three high school students nationwide never graduates.
Joe Smydo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.