After recently celebrating the graduation of the first class of Pittsburgh Promise scholarship recipients, the program now has another reason to smile. The Promise will benefit from a $100,000 grant to support its “Promise Coaches” initiative. The money comes from the Coca-Cola Foundation to the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The partnership aims to increase the high school and higher education rates among Pittsburgh residents.
A series of workshops will be offered for volunteers who wish to become mentors to high school students and to continue their support throughout the student's college careers. Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Promise, said all children need emotional support, but not all of them are fortunate enough to get it at home.
“The purpose of the Promise Coaches is to come alongside kids who are lacking some of those essential foundational building blocks and make sure that they have them through mentoring relationships, through assistance in thinking about planning for applying for college, kind of working through the challenges of financial aid and so on,” Ghubril said.
The programs funded by the grant will not only help the Pittsburgh Promise improve the number of public school graduates who receive scholarships, but also aid efforts to increase the number of volunteers who wish to become mentors.
Ghubril said the goal is to reach 2,000 coaches. “We now have about 700 adults who are involved in mentoring kids through programs like the ‘Be a 6th Grade Mentor’ and through a program like the senior coaching program that the Pittsburgh Promise runs with seniors in high school, but now the goal is to move that 700 closer to the 2,000,” Ghubril said.
Participants of the program will have access to online and print resources so that they can stay committed to staying involved and engaged in a student’s journey through their high school and college years.
To qualify for a scholarship up to $40,000, students must be enrolled in public or charter schools in the city of Pittsburgh, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and a 90 percent attendance record. Students must also get accepted into their desired college.