Good piece at the Atlantic Cities blog on what the Pittsburgh Promise program can learn from the Kalamazoo Promise:
The Pittsburgh Promise began in 2007 as an unfunded idea to offer college tuition to those who enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools. It gradually garnered support from private donors, foundations, and, most prominently, UPMC, which pledged $100 million to the program (in lieu of taxes).
RAND Corporation released a study last year (PDF), analyzing the Pittsburgh Promise’s progress since 2007.
While the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ enrollment numbers have “stabilized,” according to the study, there’s no indication that the Promise brought a significant number of new students into the city’s public school system. Of the surveyed people who did move into the city, however, the study found that “parents on average rated The Promise highest in importance [of] factors that influenced their decision to move….
Which is good. But why aren’t more people taking advantage of the program?
“Focus group students lacked clarity on the program’s eligibility requirements, the funding amounts available, and the post-secondary education institutions where Promise funds could be used,” the study read. “This suggests that the program’s communication and outreach could be improved.” [...]
Pittsburgh’s promise isn’t so simple or consistent. Right now:
High school graduates are eligible for a Promise scholarship if they (1) graduate from a Pittsburgh public traditional or charter high school; (2) live in the district and have been residents of Pittsburgh continuously since at least 9th grade; (3) graduate from high school with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5; (4) maintain a minimum of 90 percent attendance over the course of high school; and (5) qualify for entrance to any accredited two- or four-year public or private post-secondary degree program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
And a lot of those requirements have changed over the years.
The GPA eligibility requirement was 2.0 initially, then it was 2.25 and now it’s 2.5. There wasn’t an attendance requirement when the program started, then it was set at 85 percent, now it’s 90 percent.