SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE Issue 23 February 11, 2013
Business and Philanthropy Leaders Donate $4.1 Million For Hartford Promise Scholarships
Members of Hartford’s corporate and philanthropic community committed $4.1 million to launch the Hartford Promise, a college access program and scholarship fund proposed by Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, as an incentive to boost student achievement and contribute to the city’s economic growth.
Beginning with the class of 2016, the Hartford Promise will award up to $5,000 a year to every eligible Hartford resident student, attending a four-year college, who is enrolled in Hartford Public Schools since at least ninth grade, graduates with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and meets district attendance criteria. Students who plan to go to two-year colleges would receive $2,500 a year and students who opt to pursue a master’s degree in education would receive an additional year of support.
Peaches Levine of the Pathways to Technology Magnet School reciting the pledge with Superintendent Kishimoto
Today’s donation is more than a third of the $12 million that the Hartford Promise expects to raise overall to support the scholarships through the year 2023. Superintendent Kishimoto, flanked by the donors and the Hartford Promise “champions”, announced the donation at a press conference this morning in the auditorium of Hartford Public High School at 55 Forest St. Also joining her was Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
“The Hartford Promise is real now,” Superintendent Kishimoto said. “It will better enable our young people to have an impact on the world. I want to express my deepest appreciation to our corporate, philanthropic and higher education partners for making college more accessible to our students.”
The announcement included a ceremony in which 16 freshmen, one from each of the district’s high schools and themed academies, joined the superintendent on stage and recited a pledge to meet the requirements of the Hartford Promise by the time they graduate in 2016.
Participating Students from the Class of 2016 were Bailey Anderson from Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, Owusu Yaw Darko from Great Path Academy Middle College High School at Manchester Community College, Franches Garay from Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, Tyrus Garay from Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School, Hasion Gaston, from Global Communications Academy, Gabriel Hilario from Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Peaches Levine from Pathways Academy of Technology and Design, Johanna Medina-Vicenty & Jovanni Medina-Vicenty from University High School of Science and Engineering, Destini Morrell from Bulkeley High School – Teacher Preparation and Humanities Academies, Shakira Nahy from Hartford Public High School Law & Government Academy, Jazmin Nelson from Classical Magnet School, Genesis Perez-Maldonado from Hartford Public High School Academy of Nursing and Health Sciences, Jessie Rivera from High School, Inc., Laura Webster from Hartford Public High School Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, Teleyah Williams from Achievement First Hartford High Academy.
Freshmen recite the Hartford Promise Pledge. (L. to R.) Jessie Rivera from High School, Inc., Owusu Yaw Darko from Great Path Academy Middle College High School at Manchester Community College, Shakira Nahy from Hartford Public High School Law & Government Academy, Franches Garay from Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, and Bailey Anderson from Sport and Medical Sciences Academy.
“Long-term economic growth in our City is impossible if our students don’t receive a high quality education,” said Mayor Pedro E. Segarra. “The more investment we make the more likely we are to have a trained workforce prepared for the competitive job market and the more likely they will remain to fill the jobs that exist here.”
The champions, whose role is to advocate, advise and raise the remainder of the funds for the Hartford Promise, include: Mayor Segarra; Robert E. Patricelli, Chairman, President and CEO of Women’s Health USA; Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of The Travelers Cos. Inc.; Ramani Ayer, former CEO and Chairman of The Hartford; Jeffrey A. Flaks, President and CEO of Hartford Hospital; Oz Griebel, President and CEO of the Metro Hartford Alliance;Marlene Ibsen, CEO and President of the Travelers Foundation; Linda Kelly, President of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Andrew Lord, Partner, Murtha Cullina
law firm and George Weiss, founder of the Say Yes To Education Foundation.
Among those at the Hartford Promise announcement were Stephan Pryor, Commissioner of Education, Matt Poland, Chairman of the Board of Education, Dr. Kishimoto, Superintendent of Schools, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Linda Kelly CEO of Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Hartford Promise Champions Ramani Ayer & Robert Patricelli, and Kelvin Roldan, Chief Officer of Institutional Advancement.
Today’s $4.1 million donation came from six contributors: The Travelers Foundation ($2 million); Hartford Hospital ($1 million); the Say Yes to Education Foundation ($500,000); Mr. Ayer ($300,000); Newman’s Own Foundation ($200,000) and Mr. Patricelli ($100,000). Mr. Bessette and Mr. Patricelli have been named cochairs of the Hartford Promise. Mr. Ayer will serve as fundraising chair. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving will act as the fiscal agent for the fund and the Murtha Cullina law firm will be the program’s pro bono legal counsel.
“A vital aspect to a good quality of life is education,” said Jeffrey A. Flaks, President and CEO of Hartford Hospital, ”and as members of and contributors of this community, we see the education of our young people as part of our mission of service and part of our duty as a community leader."
The Hartford Promise is modeled after similar programs that have developed since 2005 in many districts across the United States, including San Francisco, Denver, Pittsburgh, New Haven and Kalamazoo, MI. Promise programs tend to have distinctive funding sources and different eligibility requirements. But they are all based on the principle that investing in education is an effective way to foster community well being and economic development, in that they stabilize school enrollment and create an educated workforce that is likely to remain in the area and keep local businesses competitive.
Dr. Kishimoto proposed the Hartford Promise last April as part of her first annual State of the Schools Address at the Connecticut Science Center. As she envisions it, the Hartford Promise will do more than award scholarships. It will include a college and career counseling structure, beginning in the 6th grade, and academic supports before and during college to ensure success on the PSAT and SAT and the attainment of a degree.
The Hartford Promise is also a logical next step in the district’s seven-year-old reform strategy, during which Hartford Public Schools made significant progress in closing the achievement gap by raising academic standards and redesigning itself as a portfolio of schools with individual educational and career themes.