South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

New city initiative will help make more area students ‘promise' ready


August 21, 2012

The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded the city and its partners $100,000 to make way for a new initiative that will help increase the number of ‘Promise Ready' students and post-secondary education graduates by equipping more adults with the skills to mentor young people.

The initiative - led by the ServePGH initiative with support from The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the United Way of Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) and the Pittsburgh Promise - will hold a series of mentoring workshops in targeted communities in order to inspire more "Promise Coaches."

"We are extremely grateful to Coca-Cola for their support of Pittsburgh's young people through our new Promise Coaches program," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. "This initiative reminds the community that everyone can play a role in the lives of our young residents. Whether you're a neighbor to a young person, or their older cousin, we want to give you the tools to help guide them to success and achievement."

Promise Coaches aims to increase both high school and college graduation rates among Pittsburgh residents through a series of community workshops, mirroring The Pittsburgh Promise's goals. Additionally, it aims to increase the number of public school graduates who receive funding from The Promise, a $40,000 scholarship available to all public and charter school students in the City of Pittsburgh that meet attendance and GPA requirements.

"We are thrilled and grateful to learn of Coca-Cola Foundation's investment in the Promise Coaches Initiative," said Saleem Gubhril, executive director of The Pittsburgh Promise. "This grant enables our city, our public schools and our community to point all our arrows in the same direction, namely Promise-readiness, for all of our kids."

Unlike traditional mentoring programs, this program does not match adults with young people. Instead, it offers a wealth of resources for mentoring relationships that already exist. Citywide, adults can attend trainings, have access to both online and print resources, and commit to staying involved and engaged in a youth's life through high school and higher education.

"This effort will better inform and equip caring adult volunteers to engage and help students navigate high-school and prepare for successful, fulfilling and productive careers," said Colleen Fedor, executive director of The Mentoring Partnership.

"It is a win for students, a win for the volunteers and a win for our city. Joining with Mayor Ravenstahl, we are continuing to build on existing mentoring efforts to ensure that all young people know that we care about them and are here to help them reach their fullest potential."

The initiative resulted from a series of meetings with education and community leaders, all of whom have the goal to improve Pittsburgh's graduation rates. The group assessed the need for a new mentoring campaign that focused on high school and college graduation, and modeled the initiative from Philadelphia's successful Graduation Coach initiative, which is being promoted as best practice by Cities of Service.

ServePGH already supports mentoring activities. The City of Pittsburgh is the largest local employer to participate in the United Way's Be a 6th Grade Mentor program. More than 50 City employees, including the mayor, mentored 6th grade students during the 2011-2012 school year. In addition, employees are encouraged to read to elementary school students during their lunch hour through a new partnership with Reading is Fundamental Pittsburgh's Everybody Wins!.


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