Home > Pittsburgh Promise Receives $2 Million from Richard King Mellon Foundation to Pilot New Initiative and Partnership with Carlow and CCAC

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The Pittsburgh Promise received $2 million from the Richard King Mellon Foundation (RKMF) to launch a four-year pilot program called Promise Coaches in Fall of 2020. This gift brings total giving from RKMF to The Promise to $11.5 million. On-site “Promise Coaches” in three Pittsburgh Public High Schools— Perry, Milliones (University Prep), and Carrick— will focus on providing post-secondary preparation and planning assistance to every high school student starting in the 9th grade.

Consistent with evidence-based best practices, the coaches will serve all students, with an emphasis on those who are below, or at risk of falling below, Promise eligibility. They will provide intensive personal career exploration and appropriate interventions to ensure Promise-readiness upon graduation. Over a four-year period, the goals of the initiative include improving equity by growing Promise eligibility rates of, and Promise utilization by, underrepresented students.

Executive Director Saleem Ghubril commented, “In some high schools, even with the availability of significant scholarships, too few 9th graders graduate from high school, enroll in post-secondary education, and earn a credential. This deprives low income students of the ability to compete in today's marketplace, perpetuates inequities and widens gaps between varying segments of our population, and creates a challenge for our region's economy, as both current and prospective employers seek to grow their businesses and replace their aging workforces with diverse talent.”

The Pittsburgh Promise hired Amy Yearwood as Director of College and Career Success to lead the initiative. Amy has been committed to providing opportunities and support for young people for the past 23 years, most recently as Director of Summer Studies and Divisional Strategic Initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet commented, “By providing students with personalized coaching and direct interventions related to their post-secondary options and Promise-eligibility, we are confident that The Promise will increase eligibility and  usage, and help students to identify their own talents, interests, resources, and pathways that will lead them to employment in our region.”

Community College of Allegheny County and Carlow University Receive RKMF Funding to Provide Ongoing Intensive Support to Coaching Cohort

In addition to The Promise grant, RKMF awarded nearly $2 million toward pilot programs at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) and Carlow University to use predictive analytics and personalized interventions to provide continued coaching support to the cohort of students who enroll at their schools. The goal of these programs is to ensure that the students not only get to post-secondary school but through to graduation and on to the region’s workforce.

Since 2010, CCAC has hosted The Promise Extension Program which is a “second chance” scholarship provided to students who meet all Promise eligibility requirements but have a cumulative, unweighted GPA of 2.0-2.49. Students who complete a full year in the Extension Program at CCAC and meet certain requirements become fully Promise eligible. The Promise Coaches partnership with CCAC will expand and institutionalize a comprehensive academic support and mentoring structure to advance the college completion rates for Promise Extension students and other Promise Scholars.

“CCAC has partnered with The Pittsburgh Promise since its inception through not only the Promise Extension Program but through our shared commitment to providing career and transfer education that is both accessible and affordable to the wider community,” says CCAC President Dr. Quintin Bullock. “Together, we are helping to provide resources and interventions to ensure that all students have the tools they need to succeed.”

Carlow University has been working in tandem with Pittsburgh Promise since 2008 and, more recently with Community College of Allegheny County, to support college-bound high school students on their journey to completing a college degree. Carlow will develop an interactive coaching and supplementary education program specifically designed for incoming Pittsburgh Promise students and transferring Pittsburgh Promise CCAC students.  The program will provide intrusive advising provided through a Success Coach who will implement best practices of data tracking, purposeful mentoring, and expanded academic services.

Carlow President Dr. Suzanne Mellon commented, “Carlow has established a reputation in the community for providing strong academic programs and support services to college-bound Pittsburgh Promise students, in particular, those who have been historically underserved. We look forward to building on the coaching work of The Promise and advancing the success of students who need additional support.”

Executive Director Saleem Ghubril commented, “We are thankful that the missions of CCAC and Carlow University compel them to take risks on students that other institutions may not. This new partnership will deepen our collective work and widen the pathways to opportunity before our students.”


Source: The Pittsburgh Promise

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