Pittsburgh Promise, students on path to success

After a rocky start, the Pittsburgh Promise, a local initiative established to provide funding to help students in Pittsburgh public schools go to college, is well on its way to fulfilling its mission.

Numerous Pittsburgh foundations and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have heavily invested, pouring millions into the program. UPMC has donated $10 million, and promises to match up to $90 million over the next nine years if the private initiative, housed in the Pittsburgh Foundation, can raise it from other institutions.

The Pittsburgh Promise provided funds totaling around $3.5 million to 750 members of the class of 2008, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The program offers up to $5000 a year for four years to students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, although the amount varies with how long a student has been in the area and is only given after all other forms of state and federal financial aid. The money can be used for tuition, but also for less visible costs like books. The scholarships apply to public and private institutions across Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Promise is a great investment in Pittsburgh’s future. The program incentivizes living in Pittsburgh and then going to college in Pittsburgh or anywhere in Pennsylvania. Hopefully, these graduates will then stay in Pennsylvania and use their educations to improve the state by attracting new companies hungry for an educated workforce.

This is not, however, just a program for elite students. Besides the residence requirements and list of eligible schools, the program’s requirements are fairly lenient: the 2009 applicants must have an 85 percent attendance rate and only a 2.25 minimum GPA to qualify.

While the Pittsburgh Promise doesn’t promise to eliminate problems in the city’s public schools — it doesn’t help kids who don’t plan on going to college or getting a high school diploma — we are excited to see this program begin to reform the city’s public schools, thereby improving the southwestern Pennsylvania region as a whole.