Largest Community Challenge Grant of its Kind Supports City and Funds “The Pittsburgh Promise,” Aims to Raise $250 Million
PITTSBURGH, December 5, 2007 — In what is believed to be the largest commitment of its kind, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has announced that it will fund a $100 million program that will help students graduating from Pittsburgh Public Schools to further their education after high school.
Called The Pittsburgh Promise™, the program is designed to help students and families of the Pittsburgh Public Schools plan, prepare and pay for education beyond high school at accredited post-secondary institutions within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
UPMC will contribute an initial $10 million to mobilize The Pittsburgh Promise in time to support 2008 graduates of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The remaining $90 million is a challenge grant intended to spur a community-wide campaign to raise a total of $250 million that will create a permanent endowment to fund future generations of graduates from the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
“What you really have to do to make your life be all that it can be is to dream big and work hard. As the leading employer and economic engine of our region, UPMC exemplifies this,” said Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools.
“The Pittsburgh Promise was a big idea when Mayor Ravenstahl and I announced it almost a year ago today. We knew it had the potential to change this city’s future and the future of Pittsburgh’s young people. But it took an institution capable of big dreams, and one that believes in Pittsburgh and its future to make The Promise real,” said Roosevelt. “We are grateful for this magnificent grant from UPMC and their challenge to all of us – potential contributors, the school district and our leadership, and all of our students and families – to dream big and work hard.”
Among its many positive effects, The Pittsburgh Promise will:
“This is an incredible act of community citizenship by UPMC that underscores its commitment to our city,” said Pittsburgh’s Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
“The Promise will go a long way in growing the City’s population, making it even more attractive for families to stay in or move to our neighborhoods and attend our public schools. Our city schools are becoming one of the key assets that will keep Pittsburgh the “most livable city” for many years to come,” added Mayor Ravenstahl.
“Our children are the future and their future is everyone’s responsibility. They are tomorrow’s leaders and this effort to help further their education will benefit them and the entire community,” said Jeffrey A. Romoff, UPMC president and CEO. “This investment in our city and in our students is the right thing to do and lays the foundation for the creation of an enduring legacy so that every child in Pittsburgh has a better future. We challenge other organizations, employers and individuals to step up and contribute to this effort.”
The 2008 graduating class of the Pittsburgh Public Schools will have the opportunity to receive a scholarship from The Pittsburgh Promise that will pay up to $5,000 each year for up to four years for tuition. Even students who already have scholarships to cover the full cost of tuition may be eligible for a minimum award of up to $1,000 through The Pittsburgh Promise program. There are currently 2,000 high school seniors in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Following the lead of many high-achieving states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania intends to require a high school graduation exam. Once the Pittsburgh Public Schools implement such an exam, the maximum scholarship award from The Pittsburgh Promise will increase to $10,000 each year for students who pass the graduation exam. Given the opportunity to double the maximum annual scholarship award from $5,000 to $10,000 each year, the Pittsburgh Public Schools will work collaboratively with the Commonwealth to implement a graduation exam for the Class of 2012. Students who do not pass the graduation exam but who fulfill all other eligibility requirements will still be able to earn a scholarship award of up to $5,000 annually.
As part of The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Pittsburgh Promise fund will have its own dedicated staff, a seven member board of directors and an advisory committee. The Foundation will provide full financial and administrative oversight, support and processing.
“There are no greater gifts we can give our children than our deep and genuine concern for their futures and our absolute assurance that we will be there to support them,” said JoAnne Burley, chair of The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Program and Policy Committee and executive director of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education. “The Pittsburgh Promise fulfills that and more. It brings hope and opportunity, it nurtures ambition and achievement, and today is a tribute to all whose vision, generosity and resolve are creating futures of limitless possibilities for all Pittsburgh children.”