In January 2020, we launched a new initiative that deploys Promise Coaches into our urban high schools to reach our most vulnerable students. Their mission is to equip students with the tools they need to identify their skills and interests, build on the supports available to them, understand the educational options in front of them, develop the soft skills employers demand of them and prepare for the jobs and opportunities that exist in the region’s marketplace. We hired and dedicated nine highly skilled and mission-driven emerging leaders to find and empower the students who might not, on their own, find their way to their future full of promise and prosperity. The launch of Promise Coaches was the result of a focused effort that began in 2018 to explore evidence-based practices and strategic opportunities to maximize the impact of The Promise scholarship. This initiative was well-underway when COVID-19 emerged as an obstacle on our students’ pathways.

Much like the rest of the world, The Pittsburgh Promise was forced to adjust how we did our work and accomplished our mission. The disruptions created by a global pandemic were challenging to everyone, but to many of our students who had little or no cushion to absorb these blows, COVID-19 was crushing. And, to our thousands of Black and Brown Promise Scholars, the racial strife and economic downturn were even more ravaging. This one-two punch only served to strengthen our resolve and inflame our determination “to advance a region that is good and just for all,” as we proclaim in our vision statement.

School children getting on buses at the end of a school day

We sprang into action with emergency outreach to identify and serve more than 700 students who severely experienced COVID’s impacts. We raised $1.3 million through which we addressed food insecurity by providing grocery gift cards; restored well-being by paying for mental health services; and kept students on their post-secondary pathway by giving extra tuition scholarships for spring, summer, and fall semesters to make up for the lack of summer jobs available to students or to fill gaps created by their parents’ unemployment.

We continued to do our core work of helping kids pursue their dreams through hard work and post-secondary education without interruption. By the time this report is published, we will have served 10,033 students and awarded $150 million in scholarships. The dream and commitment that gave birth to The Promise in 2008 are now yielding returns that will impact countless lives for decades to come.

The Pittsburgh Promise is supported by friends with big hearts, and carried out by a team with unwavering resolve, on behalf of kids with endless promise. The Promise is working. And, we could not be more proud of our students, and more thankful to you, our friends.



Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director and Franco Harris, Chair