U.S. News Focuses On New Haven, Promise Movement


U.S. News & World Report is featuring the growth of the Promise movement — and we are happy to report the first national shout-out to Cities of Promise.

cop-us-news-logoThe introduction to the piece told the tale of a young woman from a Colorado charter school who found out that the difference between her financial aid package and the price tag at her college would be more than $10,000 — a figure her parents simply couldn’t cover.

But her high school — Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, about a half-hour north of Denver — announced a pilot program intended to ensure that college remain an option for their graduates, regardless of individual financial situations.

While it is unusual for a high school to do this, more and more colleges are following the lead of the nation’s Cities of Promise, where student success has met with opportunity. New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton — a co-founder of Cities of Promise — was a source for the story.

She said that the Promise movement has led the way for innovative and entrepreneurial thinking. In this case, the grass-roots initiatives have “influenced bolder thinking at the policy level, which tends to take more time,” said Melton. New Haven Promise is currently funding nearly 500 students with more than 100 each at the state’s flagship institution, the University of Connecticut, and New Haven’s Southern Connecticut State University.

Author Allie Bidwell wrote:

Over the last decade, however, more outside foundations have been partnering with cities and school districts to get into the scholarship game, says Carrie Warick, director of partnerships and policy for the National College Access Network.

“I do see an expansion happening at the local level,” Warick says. “I think you will see it through these collective impact initiatives or other collaborations of local, business and nonprofit entities, where the school district will be very involved.”

One of the reasons school districts should be involved, perhaps even in supplying financial support, is that Promise programs help generate significant dollars for them. In New Haven, for example, public school enrollment decreased five straight years before Yale University (ranked third nationally by U.S. News), the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Yale New Haven Hospital (ranked among the nation’s top 20 in six categories by U.S. News) established the Promise in 2010.

Since then city-wide public enrollment has jumped each year and is up 10 percent in total, which brings tens of millions of dollars annually to the district and infuses economic development — short term and long term — to the region.

One City’s Promise


One of the toughest things about a Promise program is that — in the end — the funders and the program administrators have little control on the return on the investment. Promise folks can identify, celebrate, monitor, support, counsel, engage, mentor and advocate for the scholars, but it is the business community that controls the hiring. And without certainty of that, it is hard to fully grasp the ability of a Promise program to assist in the “economic development” mission that most programs champion. Continue reading

Looking Back At 2014

As we enter the final days of 2014, we look back at a significant year in the Promise movement as new Cities of Promise have emerged with innovative ways to fund scholarships and support students. Here’s a look back at some of the things that happened in the last 12 months:

cop-people-bill-haslam• Tennessee went Promise mad as a huge percentage of the state’s high school seniors signed up for the Tennessee Promise, which Gov. Bill Haslam proposed and guided into law. The Promise will use proceeds from the state lottery to provide residents with free tuition at community colleges and colleges of applied technology beginning in the fall of 2015.

The Seattle Promise — a bold new initiative from the Seattle Central Foundation — was established to provide a full scholarship to every student at Seattle Central College who demonstrates financial need, enrolls full time and maintains a 3.0 grade-point average. By eliminating financial need as a barrier to paying tuition, the Seattle Promise will allow low-income Seattle students of all ages — not just recent high school graduates — to pursue a higher education. Continue reading

The Ping Pong Of Promise?

By Patricia Melton

It made so much sense at the time. As state lotteries emerged, particularly in the South, lawmakers tied educational incentives to the proceeds in an effort to change persistently low numbers of post-secondary degree attainment — and with it, the fortunes of the state’s economy.

cop-logo-georgia-hopeAnd for quite a while, it worked. More and more students performed better, thus increasing in-state enrollment. In Georgia, where Gov. Zell Miller’s HOPE Scholarship helped voters pass the state lottery into law in 1992, the percentage of college-degree holders jumped from 19 percent to 28 percent in 20 years. Continue reading