Although The Pittsburgh Promise is a visionary concept, it has strong and credible roots. The program developed when a group of forward-looking thinkers in the community came together to address a challenge. The challenge was how to preserve the strengths of our city at the core of our region, and how to preserve the school district that is essential to the survival of the city. Leaders of the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the City of Pittsburgh retained McKinsey & Company, one of the most trusted management consulting firms in the world, to evaluate the potential benefits of such a scholarship program.

In their report, McKinsey demonstrated the success of similar programs in Kalamazoo, Michigan and ElDorado, Arkansas. The McKinsey study showed that two years after the Kalamazoo Promise was implemented, more than 400 families from other Michigan communities relocated to Kalamazoo, enrollment in the public schools increased by more than 1,000 students, test scores increased, and real estate values in the city rose 8 to 10% while the rest of the state declined. Since its inception in 2007, the ElDorado Promise has shown similar success—with a 5% increase in student enrollment and an 8% increase in real estate values. With valid statistics and strong leadership to support it, The Pittsburgh Promise was launched in the fall of 2007.