AWARD WINNING GROUP—Members of Barack Obama Academy award-winning group with Linda Lane. (Photos by Tené Croom)


“Acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of our kids,” is what Saleem Ghubril, executive director, the Pittsburgh Promise, says was at the heart of the Parents for the Promise luncheon.

“This luncheon is the culmination of some work that parents do throughout the year to kind of mobilize other parents in a grassroots initiative around supporting the Promise.”



ENTERTAINING AFTERNOON—The Barack Obama Academy performing “Once on This Island.”



The luncheon at the Rivers Club, Downtown,. was planned by parents Maria Bethel, Cynthia-Grace, Devine-Kepner and Joy Pekar-Miller.
Promise has a goal to raise $90 million over two years to continue to provide college scholarships to Pittsburgh students.

Javon King, now 22 years old, benefited from a Promise scholarship after graduating from Oliver High School.  

He proudly spoke at the luncheon about getting an associate degree in business management from Community College of Allegheny County before transferring to Point Park University, where he’s majoring in business management.

“I want to get something in the business field—whether that’s to own my own business or to work for a large corporation, somewhere in there,” he said.

King offered some common sense advice for young people who want to achieve their goals in life, “I would say always continue to further your education. The more education you get the better job you will get.”

Entertainment was provided by students from Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies.  They performed a selection from the Tony award winning Caribbean flavored musical “Once On This Island” that was a tremendous success during the recent engagement at the school.

Among those giving them a standing ovation for their phenomenal performance was Linda Lane, superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools.

“It was a great performance. Actually I’d seen their whole musical, which was wonderful. So, it was great that the group here at the luncheon could see a portion of it,” she said.



PROMISE GRAD—Javon King with mother, Darnell King.



The students’ performance of “Once on This Island” not only won critical acclaim, but gained the prestigious Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera 2013 Gene Kelly Award. The CLO presented the show with an award for Best Lighting Design.

Pittsburgh Promise is important, Lane says, stating that the “young people you saw here this afternoon who are performing, engaged in school activities, working hard in school–this is exactly what we love to see. It’s so important to have adults who are supportive of them.”
(Reach Tené Croom at



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