Career Campaign: Ready To Launch


Photo Gallery | Fact Sheet | Business Outreach | Scholar Resources

It’s by no means easy, but it was both important and inspiring. “It” was the third-annual New Haven Promise Internship Fair, co-hosted by the Yale Community Hiring Initiative.

On Thursday night more than 130 New Haven Promise Scholars gathered at Yale’s Payne Whitney Gym. With basketballs bouncing 20 feet below, the Scholars met with hiring managers from more than two dozen agencies in the first step toward landing a paid summer internship in their field of study.

More than half of the Scholars in attendance will land one of those coveted positions.

“Not only will this provide Promise Scholars about a quarter-million dollars to help cover college-going expenses,” said Executive Director Patricia Melton. “They will also gain valuable career experience and networking opportunities that will help them return to New Haven after they graduate from college. And we are extremely pleased to have new agencies, like Yale-New Haven Health, Centerplan Development, Marcum and the City of New Haven jumping in.”

The program has already launched one full-time career and will ultimately do the same for many more as Promise begins to build its alumni base.

erving-rayThe first full-time job that was a result of the Fair came to Teodoro Garcia, a 2015 graduate of the University of Connecticut. After serving an extended internship at the Yale School of Management, he landed a finance post at the School of Medicine last fall.

Both of those departments participated in the Fair along with a number of other Yale departments, such as the Art Gallery, the Center for British Art, Information Technology Services, Human Resources, Graduate Housing, Finance and the Police Department.

Another Promise graduate — Erving Xochipiltecatl (pictured) — was handling a new role at the Fair, working the table as a full-time employee of New Haven Public Schools, which plans to employ current Scholars this summer. Like Garcia, he was among New Haven Promise’s first class of graduates, earning his diploma from Quinnipiac University in the spring.

chris-patIn addition to the school district and New Haven Promise, several other businesses and organizations were looking to hire, including Teach For America, Southern Connecticut State University, Berchem Moses & Devlin Law, and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Melton and Yale’s Community Hiring Director Chris Brown (pictured) talked to the hiring managers after the event and they showed great enthusiasm for the Scholars they met and many discussed recruiting additional departments, businesses and organizations in the future.

A number of other agencies are expected to open positions in the coming months and the hope is to have more than 100 internships this summer.

UConn Commits To New Haven Promise Scholars


Yale University President Peter Salovey, New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp, University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst, New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton, New Haven Schools Superintendent Garth Harries.

Full Release (PDF) | Photo Gallery

Officials at the University of Connecticut are convinced. So convinced that school administrators want more than the 132 New Haven Promise scholars that are on campus. Even to the point that UConn has put money on the table — $5,000 per scholar per year — to help ensure that college is affordable and accessible to them.

nhp-herbst-1UConn President Susan Herbst announced Tuesday that UConn is committing $5,000 in scholarship money to each New Haven Promise scholar attending UConn, starting in fall 2016. It will supplement the scholarship that New Haven Promise provides to those who remain continuously enrolled in city public and charter schools, maintain satisfactory grades, contribute service to the city, and enroll in UConn following their graduation.

Herbst announced the additional financial commitment Tuesday at New Haven’s Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School. She was joined by Yale President Peter Salovey, who is New Haven Promise’s board chair; Mayor Toni N. Harp; Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries; and many other supporters of the program.

Yale funds New Haven Promise’s scholarships, while the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven provides administrative support and Promise’s Partnership program is funded by Yale-New Haven Hospital, Wells Fargo and others.

nhp-cameras“It is wonderful to see our investment in New Haven Promise embraced and augmented by a fellow university that, like Yale, is deeply committed to serving its home state,” Salovey said of UConn’s commitment. “I am also delighted that so many students from New Haven earn their degrees from the University of Connecticut and then return here to live, work, and contribute their perspectives to our community.”

Since 2010, nearly 1,000 New Haven public school graduates have qualified for the Promise program, including 132 currently attending UConn.

Fourteen Promise Scholars graduated from the University of Connecticut last spring and more than 20 are expected to join them in 2016. In addition, 22 UConn students gained real-world experience in a paid summer internship through the New Haven Promise-Yale  Community Hiring Initiative program last summer.

The additional $5,000 that UConn is committing for enrolled students will be awarded on top of the Promise benefit, and can be used for whatever costs remain – uncovered tuition, room and board, fees, books and other related education expenses while at UConn.

“This generous financial commitment to New Haven students who choose to attend the state’s flagship university will make college even more accessible to our city students,” said Patricia Melton, executive director of New Haven Promise.

“As legislators discuss ways to make college affordable for families, UConn and our funders — Yale University, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Yale-New Haven Health — are doing it,” she said. “Between this unique commitment, Promise dollars and federal aid, our future UConn scholars will have the majority of their total cost of attendance covered.”

New Haven Promise Scholars reflect the student body in New Haven’s schools, with large populations of students of color, first-generation students and those from households with incomes of less than $60,000. Superintendent Harries called the Commitment “not only a wonderful opportunity, but also a wonderful challenge” to supply the state’s flagship school with more New Haven student leaders.

nhp-mayor“This commitment from the University of Connecticut is a powerful testimony about the success of the New Haven students at the school,” Mayor Harp said. “UConn has its greatest presence ever in New Haven and I would expect to see an invigorated alumni chapter making new commitments to the city and both current and future Huskies.”

As part of the new commitment, the UConn Foundation has established a fund directly to support the New Haven Promise partnership, Herbst said. That means donors can specifically designate Promise program students to benefit from their generosity.

“The groundwork for this partnership was laid by the remarkable successes of New Haven students at UConn,” Herbst said. “None of this would be possible without the track record they established, so they really deserve the lion’s share of our gratitude.”

A Responsible Promise


Patricia Melton — the Executive Director of New Haven Promise — has a mantra for students, families and anyone else interested in the program. “We make college affordable,” she explains. “Not free.”

The intention of those six words is to focus on college costs — published and hidden — and the financial responsibilities of students and families. Often the first of its kind for the soon-to-be collegian, a courageous conversation isn’t just about Promise dollars, federal aid and additional scholarships. It is also about the expectation of student contribution, the benefit of a wise college choice and the necessity of spending restraint. Elaborate proms and graduation parties are soon followed by the surprise of the college’s first bill.

Melton’s “not-free” mantra also illustrates that almost every Promise scholar — both in New Haven and across the country — blows through savings and accumulates debt in the pursuit of higher education. Thus Promise programs must remain vigilant to ensure that those who enroll are equipped to finish.

It’s a tough question: Are Promise programs encouraging students — including those who’ve yet to demonstrate college readiness — to accept debilitating debt?

The Denver Scholarship Fund — one of the largest and most successful programs in the country — recently changed its funding formula to address just that. Students whose high school portfolio put them at-risk for non-completion at the next level are required to prove themselves in college before tapping into larger scholarship pots.

“We tend to care so much about kids it’s hard to do,” said Nate Easley of the Denver program. “On the other hand, if we allowed our hearts to get in the way of the research and we give the scholarships to students and they wash out, they are in a much worse situation,” leaving with debt and without a degree.

Protecting scholars isn’t the only reason to study results and define expectations. Promise programs also need to protect the unique investment. Every dollar awarded to a student who is not ready is a dollar that could have gone to a student who was. In February, the leadership of the Peoria Promise made a tough, but informed, choice about sustainability and donor base satisfaction. The result was a controversial change in funding that mandated additional accountability from the recipients.

The trend in the Promise movement has been to raise expectations, but a simple question remains — Is there a solution that addresses both universality and debt mitigation? The folks in Denver have opened a “second chance” option for students who have succeeded in college on their own dime.

And, since 2013, New Haven Promise has been testing the waters with a selective pilot program — Passport to Promise — for students with a high school grade-point average below Promise requirements. That could expand “universally” to a complete group of secondary qualifiers with reduced assistance for a shorter term. A successful year — or two — in college could unlock the full benefits of the original scholarship.

That would be a promise that both incentivizes — and protects — all students.

With Promise Comes A Trust


If you came up with a prioritized list of concerns for almost every Promise program or nearly everyone looking to start a Promise program, the top item — perhaps the top two or three — would be funding.

Last December, our own Patricia Melton wrote a story about college costs surpassing even lottery income in a number of states, forcing legislatures to reduce award amounts or tighten qualification standards. This morning, Inside Higher Ed published a story focused on sustainability of Promise programs nationwide and spoke to Melton about that piece.

As the Executive Director of New Haven Promise, she told Kaitlin Mulhere that “directors have to be wise stewards of money year to year, always on the lookout for fluctuations in economics, enrollment and even politics.”

Dr. Michelle Miller-Adams of the Upjohn Institute — who has helped several cities develop results-based Promise programs — added that it is wise to “caution people to underpromise and overdeliver.”

Dwindling state support can also impact Promise programs, whose guidelines are often devised within the financial framework of the time of the announcement without enough thought about the future. Less than a month ago, Arizona lawmakers simply gutted its largest community colleges. No Promise program in the nation could adequately react to such a seismic shift in the college affordability landscape. Thus Promise programs must be precise from the start to develop funding, programming and language that is sustainable.

Rodney Andrews — who focuses on the economics of education as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas — told Mulhere that failing to create sustainable revenue streams and mitigate factors beyond one’s control can lead to trouble.

“If not,” Andrews said. “You have to make some changes to the promise, which sort of defeats the purpose of making a promise.”