‘Pittsburgh Promise’ falls short on funds for class of ’08

Last December, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt announced the start of the “Pittsburgh Promise,” a guarantee to Pittsburgh public schools students that they would have money for college if they met certain academic and behavioral requirements, such as avoiding disciplinary problems, attending class, and completing their homework.

While the program is expected to take effect for this year’s graduating class, the Promise looks like it may fall short due to funding problems.

In order for the Promise program to provide scholarships to all of its graduating seniors, the program would need to raise between $5 million and $7 million each year.
As of the end of August, the program had only $10,000, donated by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, to give to the class of 2008, according to an Aug. 29 article from (

The ‘Pittsburgh Promise’ is modeled after a similar program initiated in Kalamazoo, Mich., according to a Dec. 14 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As a result of the Kalamazoo program, both school attendance and real estate sales increased. If the Promise program succeeds in Pittsburgh, the city may experience similar benefits.

While Carnegie Mellon Director of Admissions Michael Steidel does not believe that Carnegie Mellon will benefit from this plan, he does see the overall benefits of the program’s success.

“I think the long term benefit is a better Pittsburgh school system,” he said. “Increasing the quality of our schools will only benefit the region and the students graduating from city schools.”

In general, there will most likely be an increase in the number of students from the Pittsburgh area who are applying to college, Steidel said. He did not believe that there would be a noticeable increase in applicants to Carnegie Mellon in particular.

“The main target audience impacted will be those that are considering whether or not to even go to college ... this is not the audience that is typically attracted to schools like Carnegie Mellon,” Steidel said.

To promote the benefits of a college education, Carnegie Mellon sends representatives to local city high schools and sponsors outreach programs such as College Success 101, held in May.

“[We] bus local students to Carnegie Mellon to get an entire day of college admission advice and counseling,” Steidel said of the program.

One goal of the program is to increase the rate of students in the Pittsburgh public schools who attend college, according to a Dec. 14 article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The current rate, 70.5 percent, is lower than the state average of 75.3 percent, the article reported.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt could not be reached for comment.