PITTSBURGH, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- "Raising Pittsburgh's Promise" is the theme of this evening's Gala event that initiates the finale of a two-week celebration of historic milestones in education for Pittsburgh – the first Promise scholars have recently graduated with four-year degrees, and the 100th year graduating class of Pittsburgh Public Schools becomes the first class of Promise scholars eligible for $40,000 in four-year scholarship support.
Nearly 450 community and corporate leaders, along with a number of Promise scholar graduates and hundreds of other friends, got the party started at Stage AE on the North Shore to celebrate the occasion for the first, four-year Promise scholar graduation.
City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane set the stage and anticipation for the evening as they were among the first to congratulate a host of Promise scholars in attendance. The event was co-chaired by Franco and Dana Harris, David and Cindy Shapira, David and Nancy Malone, and Anne Lewis and James Zeszutek.
Keynote speaker Sasha Heinz, whose doctoral research focuses on resilience and the factors associated with positive adolescent outcomes, interviewed two Promise scholars and reported on how The Pittsburgh Promise helped them to face and overcome challenging circumstances.
Special guest speaker, Homewood born and raised Joshua Devine, a 2008 Pittsburgh Allderdice graduate, shared his Promise scholar story as he anticipates completing his four-year degree next semester from Penn State University with a B.S. in Community, Environment and Development.
Franco Harris, Chair of The Pittsburgh Promise, offered his congratulations to students and appreciation to the entire community for making The Promise one of the nation's top programs of its kind. He relayed how a scholarship changed his life and drove him to achieve well beyond college and professional football with his family, his business, and the community.
Foundations, Charitable Trusts Make New Funding Commitments
Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening and made several important announcements. First, Ghubril announced a series of new scholarship grants amounting to $7.6 million, bringing the total raised-to-date to a remarkable $160 million. The goal of the campaign is to raise a total of $250 million by 2018.
- The Heinz Endowments recently committed to a second three-year $6 million scholarship grant, investing a total of $12 million since the program's inception. Among the top financial supporters of The Promise, the Endowments requested The Promise Foundation to further collaborate with Pittsburgh Public Schools on increasing the number of college applicants and mobilizing academic intervention programs for public school students.
- The Pittsburgh Foundation, another major funder to The Promise, added an additional $500,000 grant to The Promise's campaign. In addition to being the financial steward of The Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship Fund, The Pittsburgh Foundation has provided a total of $6.5 million in grants to The Promise since the program began in 2008.
- University Club of Pittsburgh Charitable and Educational Trust granted a generous gift of $562,000 to The Pittsburgh Promise in honor of Wayne R. Oates and Zelda B. Oates. This Trust was funded by the original members of The University Club of Pittsburgh, and has been used exclusively for scholarships to children of Club employees that began in 1968. The passing of the last income beneficiary of this Trust resulted in the distribution of these residual funds to The Promise, at the request of the presiding trustees of the Trust.
- BNY Mellon today announced an additional multi-year, $500,000 commitment to The Promise Scholarship Fund reflecting a total $1 million investment in Pittsburgh's future workforce.
- The Massey Charitable Trust added $100,000 to its Promise scholarship commitment. This Trust was among the original $1 million donors to the Scholarship Fund. The legacy of Mr. and Mrs. Massey is probably best known as being the founders of Massey Buick. Their trust was established in 1968, and has been active in supporting community programs since their passing in 1984.
Corporate-Named Scholarships Create Pipeline for Workforce Development
Saleem Ghubril announced the first corporate naming of five scholarships based on $1 million-plus grant commitments. These specially-designated scholarship funds are intended for corporate donors to develop and maintain a relationship with high performing student scholars while they are completing their education and pursuing a career in the respective donor business discipline upon graduation.
"This is a deliberate approach for companies to actually get involved with Promise scholars in addition to offering financial support," said Saleem Ghubril. "Among our top goals is to encourage more corporate donors to participate at this 'grass roots' level, and build a pipeline that could, conceivably, result in eventual employment. While we are humbled by the generosity of all donors, this program creates a natural opportunity and incentive for a strong connection between potential employers and gifted student scholars."
Each of the following five corporate donors has provided at least $1 million in support of The Promise. These donors will now be able to foster a relationship with high performing students beginning in their senior year of high school, continuing through college, with the potential of being employed by these corporations.
High performing students selected for this program will be known as one of the following:
- UPMC Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise
- Highmark Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise
- PNC Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise
- Giant Eagle Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise
- BNY Mellon Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise
...and the Celebration Continued with Concerts, Music and Dance-a-thon
At 9 p.m., Pittsburgh college students and young professionals from around the city began 'Igniting Pittsburgh's Promise' at Stage AE into the night arriving for a special concert featuring G. Love and Special Sauce and award-winning R&B recording artist Ashanti, followed by DJ Zimmie and DJ Bonics, and a host of other top DJ's in the region who played through the night. The Party was co-hosted by Kiya and Mike Tomlin.
The concert and dance-a-thon at Stage AE extended into the night ending on Friday morning, June 15 with sunrise yoga and a BBQ. Attendees purchased tickets or raised funds in order to attend. Every $1.50 raised by this event is matched with $1 by UPMC.
The Pittsburgh Promise, advocates for improving the quality of education and increasing the preparedness and diversity of the region's workforce. For more information about The Pittsburgh Promise, visit www.pittsburghpromise.org
SOURCE The Pittsburgh Promise