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FRANCO HARRIS, Chairman of the Pittsburgh Promise, with Zeirdik Williams, a fellow Penn State graduate, and Chelsea Lewis, a senior at Pittsburgh CAPA. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

In March, the Pittsburgh Promise hosted a presentation for its college, university and technical school partners by Georgia State University Vice Provost Timothy Renick, showing how by taking a few proactive steps, college retention for first-generation, low-income and minority students could be dramatically increased.

Last week, that presentation bore fruit as representatives of 19 Pittsburgh Promise higher education partners committed to supporting Promise graduates with additional funding and support programming.

In return for promoting the colleges and universities throughout the Pittsburgh Public Schools as “Preferred College Partners,” the institutions will provide Promise enrollees with $2,000 per student, per year for room and board—though some will provide up to $5,000—over and above their other grant funding. The partners will also provide the Promise grads with extra social and academic support programming.

“Data tell us unequivocally that certain support services make a dramatic difference in a kid’s ability to not just go, but go and perform at high levels and then eventually complete their post-secondary education,” said Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril at the Sept. 27 press conference announcing the partnership. “I’m pleased to announce that 19 institutions have made this commitment.”

Also pleased was Promise Board Chair Franco Harris, especially since select campuses of his alma mater, Penn State, are among the Preferred College Partners.

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