The Heinz Endowments of Pittsburgh has awarded Indiana University of Pennsylvania a $160,000 grant to support IUP's The Promise Plus initiative.

The Promise Plus aims to expand the impact of the Pittsburgh Promise—a program designed to help all students in Pittsburgh Public Schools plan, prepare, and pay for education beyond high school at an accredited post-secondary institution within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“IUP is honored to be the recipient of The Heinz Endowments' funding to lead this very important initiative,” Dr. Tony Atwater, IUP president said. “IUP is committed to increasing educational attainment in the greater Pittsburgh region.

“IUP has a strong existing partnership with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, including the establishment of two professional development schools and membership in the executive board of the School District University Collaborative. We also have a long and successful history of university partnerships which enhance student success at the pre-college level.”

Among those partnerships are two Federal TRIO programs—Upward Bound Math-Science and the McNair Scholars program—designed to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the R. Benjamin Wiley Partnership Program for Urban High School Students, dual enrollment agreements with regional school districts, and the Punxsutawney Summer Opportunity Program.

The Pittsburgh Promise was created by The Pittsburgh Foundation and is supported by the Pittsburgh Public Schools and community agencies.

IUP's The Promise Plus initiative includes the following components:

  • Early contact with students through IUP student and faculty involvement in classrooms and support in the early grades. Creation of mentorship pairs in sixth and seventh grades to provide students and parents with a contact in higher education.
  • Enhanced dual enrollment programs to allow high school students to earn college credit via summer program and hybrid courses. This would involve combinations of distance education, on-site, and on-campus work.
  • A specific pre-college program that facilitates academic learning skills, adjustment to college, and the application process for both students and parents that would occur at IUP's main or regional campuses.

IUP's program also will complement Pathways to the Promise, a Pittsburgh Public Schools initiative with the goal of ensuring that all students are “Promise ready” and on course to graduate and take advantage of a Pittsburgh Promise scholarship.

During the first year of the project, IUP will create the model for the program and develop a plan for its sustainability.

The university will form a task force, including administrative leaders, faculty members, and school district representatives, to make decisions, in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, about target schools. Current Pittsburgh Promise scholarship students will be involved in the project and will be asked to be mentors for participants as appropriate.

The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center of learning and educational excellence, and a home to diversity and inclusion.

Committed to helping its region thrive as a whole community—economically, ecologically, educationally, and culturally—the foundation works within Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the nation to develop solutions to challenges that are national and even international in scope.

One of the largest and most innovative independent philanthropic foundations in the country, The Heinz Endowments awarded more than $75 million in grants in 2008.