News Release: The Pittsburgh Promise to Create Advancing Educators of Color Scholarship

PITTSBURGH, January 27, 2022 – The Pittsburgh Promise has announced plans to launch the Advancing Educators of Color (AEC) scholarship, a program conceptualized and funded by Debra Kline Demchak and William S. Demchak with the goal of adding 35 Black educators to the Pittsburgh Public School system in the next seven years.

The AEC scholarship complements the Promise Scholarship, which is available to eligible Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) students and designed to encourage students to pursue teaching careers at PPS after graduation. Students chosen for the AEC scholarship will be deemed Demchak Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise.

“We are exceptionally grateful to Bill and Debbie for their remarkable gift, especially given research showing that the presence of Black teachers in the education of Black students has transformative impacts on students’ visions for their futures as well as academic outcomes,” said Executive Director of The Pittsburgh Promise Saleem Ghubril. “Outcomes include higher educational attainment, lower dropout rates, and reduced disciplinary actions. This gift will not only bless the lives of the Demchak Scholars who choose to pursue their passion for education, but also the lives of the many students those teachers will serve.”

The Pittsburgh Promise provides up to $20,000 scholarships for college, trade or technical school education to eligible Pittsburgh Public Schools graduates who attend post-secondary institutions in the state of Pennsylvania. The AEC program will provide an additional final-dollar college scholarship for selected students who train to be educators, pursue their teaching certificate, and teach in the Pittsburgh Public Schools for at least five years following graduation.

“I’m honored to serve as Secretary to The Pittsburgh Promise Board of Directors, through which I’ve had the chance to hear both the challenges faced by our students and their exceptional success stories,” said Debra Kline Demchak. “I’ve also learned about the importance of Black teachers to Black students. Bill and I are proud to fund this initiative to advance students of color who are passionate about education. They will not only have the opportunity to pursue a career in education, but to give back to the next generation of students by bringing their talent and example back to PPS.”

To complement the AEC program and position students for success, those selected as Demchak Scholars will be paid to attend a summer program at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education before enrolling in their freshman year at the college of their choice. They are also encouraged to attend it the summer before their 12th grade year, to prepare themselves for their exciting journey toward becoming educators. The summer program provides a generous stipend for students. AEC Scholars will also participate in professional development programming through The Pittsburgh Promise.

“The importance of Black educators cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Valerie Kinloch, Professor and Renée and Richard Goldman Endowed Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. “Research shows that Black teachers are undeniably successful at improving the overall well-being and academic and nonacademic engagements of Black children and youth, which increases high school graduation rates and the likelihood of college attendance. However, statewide, Black educators comprise less than 4% of the teacher population in K-12 public and charter schools. By undertaking new efforts to recruit, retain, and support Black educators, we will be able to ignite learning, transform education, and uncover the genius, joy, and love that already exist within all of our students.”

The Pittsburgh Promise has provided post-secondary scholarships to over 10,500 Pittsburgh Public Schools students since 2008— 50.3% are students of color and 95% represent low-to moderate-income households. The Promise improves rates of post-secondary enrollment and persistence for Pittsburgh Public Schools graduates.

“The Pittsburgh Promise is helping to build bridges between our city’s youth and our city’s workforce,” said William S. Demchak. “Debbie and I are proud to fund this initiative to help Pittsburgh Public Schools students pursue their career goals and retain their talent here in Pittsburgh. Racial equity in all sectors of our workforce is essential to the health of our region.”
About The Pittsburgh Promise

The Pittsburgh Promise promotes high educational aspirations among urban youth, funds scholarships for post-secondary access, and fuels a prepared and diverse regional workforce. To date, The Promise has invested more than $158 million in scholarships to send more than 10,500 urban youth to a post-secondary institution. Over 3,700 Promise Scholars have graduated, and many are now working, and giving back, in the Pittsburgh region. Promise Alumni have added value to the region’s workforce at over 650 companies. Pittsburgh has the largest Promise program in the United States. For more information visit