The Pittsburgh Foundation

The Pittsburgh Promise issues 2013 Report to the Community


  • 4,600 Students Receive More than $40 Million in Post-Secondary Scholarships

  • Scholarship Fund Achieves 67% of 10-Year Fundraising Goal at Halfway Point

  • The Grable Foundation Pledges Additional $5 Million

  • Study Reports Promise Scholars Continue to Achieve Higher Retention Rates

  • 65 Executive Scholars Build Pipeline for Future Workforce with Top Donors

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 24, 2013 – The Pittsburgh Promise today issued its fifth annual report to the community titled, “Transforming the Lives of Children. Vitalizing the Pittsburgh Region.”  This year’s report highlights progress of the program’s funding and the challenges that remain for advancing academic achievement in public education. It summarizes the program’s impact on the first five years of Promise Scholars, its progress in influencing both high school and college retention rates, and its role in advocating for urban education reform. The format of the printed report follows the program’s primary four “promises” and the current status of each goal, including:

  1. We will send all eligible urban youth to college or trade school with a scholarship.
  2. We will promote the reform of urban schools so that young people are prepared for successful and meaningful lives.
  3. We will invest in our region’s workforce by preparing the next generation of workers.
  4. We will raise $250 million in order to get this work done.

Since its inception in 2008, The Pittsburgh Promise has provided scholarships to more than 4,600 students graduating from high school through June 2013. Nearly $40 million of scholarship investment has been made to-date. Females represent 59% of Promise scholars and African-American scholars represent 42 percent.

Community leaders, donors, city school district and Promise officials gathered at the local headquarters of Google in East Liberty for the annual update. Andrew Moore, Vice President of Engineering and head of Google’s Pittsburgh office, hosted today’s meeting and offered his perspective on Pittsburgh and the Promise. Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane discussed how The Promise is impacting the city school system. Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril presented benchmark updates and moderated the program.

The Grable Foundation Increases its Investment Promise Scholarships

Today it was announced that The Grable Foundation, a local organization that has supported the advancement of young people in the Pittsburgh region since 1976, has pledged an additional $5 million to The Pittsburgh Promise. The Grable Foundation was among the Promise’s early donors when it pledged its first $5 million grant five years ago. The Grable Foundation is now among the top three donors to this 10-year fund development effort. The grants to The Pittsburgh Promise are the largest ever made to any organization by The Grable Foundation.

“We support the transformative opportunities The Pittsburgh Promise brings to children in our region,” said Gregg Behr, Executive Director of The Grable Foundation. “We recognize the potential impact of this educational incentive on the life prospects for children and the aspirations they have for themselves as well as the expectations that adults have for them. The Foundation’s grant also acknowledges the hard work of The Promise to help improve opportunities for young people to achieve academic or vocational success.”

Commenting on The Grable Foundation doubling its commitment to the Promise and the community, Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said, “We are deeply grateful to The Grable Foundation and all donors who have invested in our children, and in creating a stronger workforce for our future. With their support The Pittsburgh Promise has become the largest and most inclusive campaign of all Promise initiatives in the United States.”

$82 Million More Must Be Raised; New Way for Individuals to Contribute $10 per Month

In order to achieve the $250 million fund development goal for sustaining this scholarship program, an additional $82 million must be raised. In April 2013, Phase II of the fund development campaign was launched with committees of community leaders seeking to fulfill the funding target through specific outreach efforts.

In addition, a grass roots effort for members of the public to contribute is being launched through a monthly pledge program whereby individuals can have at least $10 per month charged to their credit card, thus making for an easy way to get involved in this community-wide education initiative. (Visit for donating instructions.)

Public Education Reform Efforts Continue; Impact of Promise More Important than Ever

School Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane expressed her continued enthusiasm for the progress being made on education reform efforts and appreciation to the entire community for its ongoing commitment and investment in The Pittsburgh Promise. “As public education in the United States is in the midst of much needed reform, we are very fortunate to have The Promise as a driving force for success among teachers, staff and especially students and their families who are focused every day on the goal of achieving ‘promise-readiness.”

“The Promise has become more than a financial benefit to deserving graduates; it is a key motivator and an integral part of our support system for helping students to achieve and sustain eligibility and success through their academic training. PPS graduates are now attending college at a higher rate than before the Promise was launched. Given our ambitious goal for 80% of all students to graduate from high school and to get through post-secondary education, we still have much work to do in raising the performance and the hopes of our young people during their formative development,” said Dr. Lane. 

Study Finds Promise Scholars Meet or Exceed National Retention Rates

For the second consecutive year, the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) analyzed data on Promise Scholar retention rates. Below are several key findings:  

  • Promise scholars are retaining at rates that meet or exceed ACT (American College Testing) national rates for every institution type and overall (private, public, 2-year and 4-year).

  • Eighty-four percent of high school graduates receiving scholarships during the past five years had grade point averages (GPA) above the minimum requirement of a 2.5 GPA, with 52% of recipients achieving a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • The Promise is intended to give students a strong motivation for staying in school, and one of its key goals is to reduce the dropout rate in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. PPS annual dropout rate has declined since the 2008-2009 school year. The dropout rate for 2011-2012 is below that of comparison districts.

Scholarship Fund at 67% of 10-Year Goal at Mid-Point in Fund Development

During the past five years, the community has invested approximately $40 million in Pittsburgh Promise scholarships in support of more than 4,600 high school graduates who enrolled in over 100 different post-secondary public and private colleges and universities, career training companies, and vocational and trade programs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As of September 24, 2013, the scholarship fund has financial commitments of $168 million from UPMC, foundation, corporate and community investors. This amount represents 67% toward the 10-year fundraising goal of $250 million. 

65 Executive Scholars and Top Donors Build Pipeline for Future Workforce

In its second year, a total of 65 Promise Scholars – including 40 recent high school graduates – are now designated as Executive Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise, a special program that matches Promise Scholars with Pittsburgh companies who have provided unprecedented support to The Promise. The opportunity to be named Executive Scholars in connection with potential employers at UPMC, Highmark, Giant Eagle, PNC, BNY Mellon, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Mylan and American Eagle Outfitters offers invaluable connections and relationships which could, if desired by the students and the companies, serve as a pipeline for internships and eventual employment.

This special relationship provides scholars with the chance to build professional networks in the Pittsburgh region during their college years. Criteria for being chosen among Executive Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise includes: academic performance (3.5 GPA and above), commitment to community, demonstrated leadership skills, dedication to education, and field of study.  A listing of the Executive Scholars is available at

About The Pittsburgh Promise

The Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship program for Pittsburgh Public School students, advocates for improving the quality of education and increasing the preparedness and diversity of the region’s workforce.  Pittsburgh has the largest Promise program in the United States.  For more information about The Pittsburgh Promise, visit

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