Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program announces $3.7 million more in pledges and gifts.

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The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program today announced $3.7 million in new pledges and gifts but still has to raise $76.8 million to meet its goal of $250 million.

“It’s a really heavy lift,” said Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Promise. “It’s a daunting task, but none of us think it’s impossible to do.”

The two largest new pledges are $1.5 million each from repeat givers: the Buhl Foundation, bringing its total support to $3 million, and the Eden Hall Foundation, for a total of $2.5 million.

Last April, the Promise announced an extra push to reach the $250 million in 2015 rather than to stretch out the campaign to 2018 as originally planned.

Mr. Ghubril noted the money raised so far is about 70 percent of the overall goal since the program’s inception.

He is optimistic about getting the rest. Based on about 200 prospects who are now being courted, Mr. Ghubril said, “I see a fairly clear path to about $40 million.”

He said there are an additional 250 to 300 prospects who have been identified but have not yet been contacted.

The Promise has three employees and one contractor who work on fund-raising. In addition, about 50 volunteers work to find and encourage potential givers.

Two volunteers have formed a booster club called Keepers of the Promise. Members make annual donations of $300 each or $600 per couple to the Promise and recruit others to join. So far, the 115 members have contributed nearly $100,000.

Other recent donations, some of which came from repeat donors, include:

• Hillman Foundation, $250,000, for a total of $1.25 million.

• Massey Charitable Trust, $100,000, for a total of $1.5 million.

• Range Resources, $100,000, for a total of $300,000.

• Constellation Energy, $55,000.

• Huntington Bank, $30,000, for a total of $66,000.

• AT&T, $25,000.

The Promise began with a challenge grant of $100 million from UPMC in December 2007, providing $10 million the first year and $1 for each $1.50 raised in each of the following nine years.

High school graduates —both in Pittsburgh Public Schools and brick-and-mortar charter schools in the city — are eligible for up to $40,000 for in-state colleges or trade schools if they have a 2.5 grade point average, 90 percent attendance and meet residency requirements.

So far, 781 students have graduated. Mr. Ghubril expects another 300 to graduate this year.

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

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