To be eligible for the Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship granted to Pittsburgh Public Schools students upon graduation, students must graduate with a 2.5 GPA and 90 percent attendance. In efforts to support African American male students on the cusp of achieving the maximum $40,000 scholarship, the school district has created “We Promise.”
In 2012 the district’s Equity Office created “We Promise,” a mentoring program uniquely designed to support these students by providing the resources they need to ensure they are prepared and eligible to receive The Pittsburgh Promise.
Jason Rivers, project manager of We Promise, said the program is important because it exposes students to “institutions of higher learning, such as local colleges and universities, which may have initially seemed out of reach.”
On March 18, We Promise hosted a summit for high school juniors at the University of Pittsburgh. The summit, which is typically held each report card period, welcomed 75 students and more than 35 mentors to network and participate in workshops around personal branding.
The keynote address was given by Cullen J. Lane, a Miami lawyer, and son of Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane. In alignment with the summit’s theme, Lane spoke about branding and self-image specifically the choices to make in life, how to build relationships, and how to own your place in an educational setting.
Rivers called last week’s meeting, “the most powerful summit yet.”
After hearing Lane speak, David Wise Jr., a junior at Pittsburgh Milliones, was moved to take the information he learned back to his school: “I learned that if you have a dream, go for it—no matter how big or how small. I am the only one who can determine my future.”
Early results are showing progress. Of the current 441 young men in the We Promise program, 59 percent of these students have shown growth in their GPA over the past year. Of those students the program was able to track, 191 students saw an increase in their GPA from 4th quarter of 2013-2014 to the 1st quarter of 2014-2015.
“We Promise is important because it provides Black males the space to see themselves as valued members of the classroom,” Rivers said. “We hold the belief that there is a wealth of brilliance and unleashed capacity for acadeic success in each of our We Promise scholars’.
“By empowering this particular body of students, We Promise encourages scholars to take ownership of their future as they transition from high school to college or the workforce.”
We Promise is currently seeking African American male mentors.
(If interested, please contact Jason Rivers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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