The City of Cleveland is undergoing an exciting renaissance building promise for its future. The Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools is making change. More students are in high quality schools and the high school graduation rate has risen 12 percent in just the last 4 years to 63 percent.
While these are positive signs, we have seen concerning trends related to college readiness of graduates, declining college-enrollment rates and persistently low levels of college completion for Cleveland students. In addition to these indicators, affordability has become a significant barrier for middle and low income families with college tuition rates rising at twice the rate of national inflation. If these issues are not faced, Cleveland will continue to struggle with the intractable problems of an undereducated workforce and persistently high levels of poverty.
Other cities have tackled these issues with the creation of innovative programs that include scholarship assistance for higher education.The Promise program is one model that has gained significant traction. Promise scholarship programs are community-based guarantees to help pay the cost of higher education for young people who live in sponsoring communities and meet eligibility criteria. The core concepts of these programs are to redevelop communities, increase educational attainment rates and create a skilled workforce that aligns with economic growth.
The Pittsburgh Promise launched in 2008. Since the first scholarships were awarded, high school graduation rates have increased by 8 percentage points and college enrollment rates have climbed by 10 percentage points. Scholarship recipients’ college retention and completion rates have remained above national averages and population for the City has begun to increase after 50 years of straight decline.
Grant Oliphant, President of the Heinz Endowments, formerly President of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and current board member of the Pittsburgh Promise, will share a funder’s and civic leader’s perspective of why this program is catalytic for communities. Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Promise, has created a community movement working with schools, students and families to provide the means for every student to pursue higher education.
This is a free event but registration is required.