Greater promise: The city's tuition program also brings youths home

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The Pittsburgh Promise has taken the next logical step in its effort to simultaneously help local students and the city itself.

The nonprofit was established in 2006 and two years later began awarding college and trade school scholarships to students who graduate from city public schools, including charters. So far, it has provided more than $25 million to 3,700 students, thanks to the participation of generous foundations and corporations, including a $100 million matching pledge from UPMC.

While the Promise's primary task is making sure the city's young people can afford college and are prepared for it, the organization's larger mission is reversing population decline in Pittsburgh and its public schools and developing a well-prepared work force.

With a career workshop held for scholarship recipients last week, the Promise advanced that broader goal. More than 200 young people participated in mock interviews, listened as representatives from local companies explained opportunities in energy, business and marketing, and attended a job and internship fair.

The Promise wants its graduates to bring their talents back to Pittsburgh after college, and the workshop is a way to encourage it. Executive Director Saleem Ghubril told the Post-Gazette's Kaitlynn Riely that 200 Promise graduates already have taken jobs with local companies.

The workshop is the Promise's latest initiative, following on the heels of a campaign announced in September that is aimed at attracting to Pittsburgh recent Hispanic immigrants who already live within a 300-mile radius of the city.

The Promise scholarships -- worth as much as $40,000 per student -- can do much to transform the life of one individual. By extending its programming, the smart leadership at the Promise, with widespread community support, is demonstrating how the scholarship program can likewise transform the region.

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