Today, New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.
The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.
Yale University and its partner, New Haven Promise, commit to deepening the work of Promise, a scholarship and support program founded in 2010 for New Haven public school students and their families. Through Promise, high school graduates who maintain a 3.0 GPA and a 90 percent attendance record – and who participate in community service – receive up to full tuition assistance for any two- or four-year program at a public college or university (or up to $2,500 annually to attend a private nonprofit) in Connecticut. To date, more than 500 Promise students have enrolled in Connecticut colleges and universities. Yale is the primary sponsor of Promise.
To increase readiness and success for more than 21,000 K-12 students served in New Haven, Yale through their partner, New Haven Promise commits to:
• Expand the newly piloted Ambassador program from four to 10 campuses, increasing its reach from 116 to 250 students in 2015. The program is an academic and near-peer social support network that employs Promise scholarship recipients to help students transition successful to freshman year.
• NHP will deepen parent engagement by having them sign a pledge supporting their children’s college aspirations. Currently ninth-grade students and above are asked to sign the pledge. NHP’s goal is to encourage 500 parents to pledge their children for Promise in grades K-5 and 400 parents of grades 6-8 by September 2015, thus engaging the entire family in the college preparation process.
• Yale and New Haven Promise commit to expanding the Pathways to Promise program to parents, engaging them when their children are at the elementary level and continuing that outreach as students enter middle school and prepare to complete the Promise pledge, in which the student commits to college preparation necessary to secure a Promise Scholarship. The Pathways to Promise program creates a comprehensive college-going culture designed to motivate students and inspire the entire family to start thinking early about college.
• By 2015, Yale and New Haven Promise will also develop 50 new commitments with nonprofit and faith-based champions to support college readiness in their communities.
Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on Jan. 14, 2014.
Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.
Photos: Both are Official White House Photos used with the permission of the White House Press Staff. The feature image of the White House illuminated at sunset was taken by Chuck Kennedy. The story image of President Barack Obama reviewing his notes with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling before delivering remarks at January’s College Opportunity Summit was snapped by Pete Souza. Sperling would subsequently give New Haven Promise a “shout-out,” which was reported back to New Haven by Yale University President Peter Salovey, who was in attendance.