Promise Plus Initiative to Benefit from Third Heinz Endowments Grant

Posted on 6/3/2011 3:58:03 PM

The Heinz Endowments of Pittsburgh awarded IUP a grant for the third consecutive year for continued support of IUP’s Promise Plus initiative.

With this most recent grant of $150,000, IUP has received $460,000 total from the Heinz Endowments for this program.

Promise Plus—now in its third year—aims to expand on the Pittsburgh Promise, which is 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 Pennsylvania.

“IUP is proud of its affiliation with the Heinz Endowments and is honored to have been selected, for a third consecutive year, to continue leadership of this very important initiative,” Dr. David Werner, interim president, said.

IUP has a partnership with the Pittsburgh Public Schools that has included the establishment of two professional development schools, membership on the executive board of the School District University Collaborative, and the establishment of Future Educators of America clubs at three Pittsburgh high schools.

“We also have a long and successful history of university partnerships that enhance student success at the pre-college level, and we will continue this commitment to advancing educational attainment in the Pittsburgh region,” he said.

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 Pittsburgh Public Schools and community agencies.

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.
  • A specific pre-college program that facilitates academic learning skills, the adjustment to college, and the application process, for both students and their parents, at IUP’s main or regional campuses.

“It is extremely gratifying to see that the success of this program has drawn attention from other school districts in the Western Pennsylvania region, with the idea of duplicating this initiative to encourage students from their areas to attend college,” Debra Valentine-Gray, director of Regional Advancement, said.

IUP’s program also complements Pathways to the Promise, a Pittsburgh Public Schools initiative that aims to ensure all students are “Promise ready,” or on course to graduate and take advantage of a Pittsburgh Promise scholarship.

During the first year of the Promise Plus project, IUP created a model for the program, and the project was formally approved by the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ board of directors.

In the project’s first and second years, IUP hosted close to a thousand students from both the Lincoln and Fulton elementary schools for tours and discussions about the college environment.

One of the major goals of this year’s program is to collaborate with Pittsburgh Public Schools faculty members who teach participating students, so that the work done in the home classroom and at IUP better complement each other.

The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.