Pittsburgh Promise

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In Jim Seagriff’s classroom at Taylor Allderdice High School, there are a half dozen furnaces and boilers. A small closet area is set up the way a basement would be. Goggle-clad teenagers adjust knobs on mock refrigerators.

These are HVAC students in the Career and Technical Education program.

John Walker / Flickr

In 2008 the Pittsburgh Promise began offering scholarships to area high school students. Since then 1,084 scholarship recipients have graduated from college.

While the program is having its successes, it isn’t without critics who say it hasn’t resulted in any meaningful improvement in academic achievement.

Joining us for a conversation about the organization, which recently delivered its annual report is Pittsburgh Promise executive director Saleem Ghubril.

With 5,200 students benefiting from the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship fund in the last six years and more than $140 million dollars raised toward a $250 million goal, Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril is pleased with the progress.

The numbers were announced as part of the program’s annual report to the community release Wednesday. 

More than 60 percent of the 25,000 jobs available in the Pittsburgh region require specialized technical training - but only 40 percent of them require a four-year degree, according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board.

That’s why the Pittsburgh Promise and Pittsburgh Public Schools are offering a new trade education program for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students starting this September.

Since 2008, the Pittsburgh Promise made a pledge to pay for the higher education of city high school residents, and this past week it reached the 70 percent mark in raising the money it needs.

But to continue the program for the next 30 years the organization would have to raise $250 million, and so far it has collected $173 million.

The Pittsburgh Promise has announced it has received its largest-ever individual gift.

Marty and Ann McGuinn have pledged $1 million to the scholarship fund.

“This money will support hundreds of kids in their pursuit for higher education after high school,” said Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril, “and will ensure the majority of them will be able to graduate from college or whatever post-secondary education they pursue, without debt.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Since the inception of the Pittsburgh Promise, 4,101 students have received college scholarships, and that number will go up to more than 4,600 when scholarships for the class of 2013 are factored in.

With 707 recipients graduated from college, program leaders say the Pittsburgh Promise is having a positive impact on students and the district. The 2013 Report to the Community shows some areas of change, including two demographic shifts.

Making Promises the City Can Keep

Jul 26, 2013
Gates Foundation / flickr

The Pittsburgh Promise has been providing scholarships to Pittsburgh public school students since 2008. They've pledged to promote the development of neighborhoods, city school reform, and give city students access and opportunities to attend a higher education institution.

Five years since its inception, the first batch of Promise recipients are graduating from their respective colleges and universities, and many critics are argue that the program has not been effective. Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Promise maintains that the scholarship program is helping hundreds of students succeed after high school, while Jake Haulk, President of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, asserts that little has been done to improve the quality of the public schools. He says students are not receiving a sufficient education upon high school graduation.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Happily announcing a trio of major gifts from locally-based corporations, Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said Monday that the city's scholarship fund now expects to raise $90 million more by 2015, three years earlier than expected.