Yale University has extended its commitment to New Haven Promise, a college scholarship and career development program that has supported more than 2,200 New Haven Public School students, through June 2026. The university will also increase its financial commitment to the program by $1 million annually, from $4 million to $5 million.
Established in 2010, New Haven Promise provides up to full-tuition scholarships for local public school students attending two- and four-year public colleges and universities in Connecticut (and up to $2,500 towards city students’ tuition at private universities in Connecticut). To date, Yale has contributed more than $25 million in scholarship aid to eligible New Haven students.
The mission of New Haven Promise is to inspire the city’s public school students to aspire to a college education and to help them achieve that goal. In addition, it supports economic development locally by providing internships to New Haven Promise scholars while they are in college with the goal of preparing them for future careers, especially jobs in their home city. These internships are also available to New Haven Public School graduates who qualify as Promise scholars but choose to attend university out of state.
The scholarships are funded fully by Yale, with programming and administrative support in partnership with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Yale New Haven Hospital.
“As a co-founder of New Haven Promise, Yale is grateful to be able to increase our investment in the young scholars of our home city,” said Yale President Peter Salovey, who is chair of the board of New Haven Promise. “It is wonderful to think about all the students from New Haven who will be encouraged by this program to study at one of the great colleges or universities in Connecticut. And it’s even more heartening to know that many Promise scholars will then bring their talents and expertise back to our city to launch careers and create new businesses.”
Since the program’s creation, the number of public school graduates in the city who pursue a four-year degree following graduation has jumped more than 70%, according to Patricia Melton, executive director of New Haven Promise.
Melton said Yale has supported the students who take part in the program at every stage of their development, from its participation in the Snowball festival, which motivates elementary and middle schoolers to achieve the academic success that prepares them for college, to the hiring of Promise graduates in internship and full-time roles across Yale’s campus.
“It is rare for any funder to participate with this kind of depth and, on behalf of thousands of students and parents, we so appreciate the commitment to the city,” Melton said.
Of the 2021 New Haven Promise scholars, 80% were Black or Hispanic and 69% were the first in their families to attend college. Sixty-seven percent of the recipients live in households with incomes lower than $60,000, and more than half of these reported incomes below $30,000.
A key component of the program is its preparation of New Haven college students for career success via professional development workshops, annual internship and job fairs, and the paid summer internship program. A goal of the Careers and Civic Launch Internship Program, as this initiative is called, is to help Promise scholars build skills that they can apply in post-graduation jobs, preferably in the City of New Haven.
In the summer of 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic), nearly 100 New Haven Promise scholars were awarded internships at Yale, and 83 held internships in businesses and nonprofit organizations elsewhere in New Haven. While that number dwindled somewhat during the 2020 and 2021 summers due to the pandemic, a range of remote internship positions were offered, and new organizations continue to be added to the list of sites offering paid internships to the scholars.
“It has been a privilege to participate in the evolution of New Haven Promise over the last 10-plus years,” said Lauren Zucker, Yale’s associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University Properties. “Yale has funded more than 2,200 New Haven Public School graduates who have been awarded Promise scholarships as a result of Yale’s commitment.
“Equally important have been the internships that we’ve created at Yale to support these New Haven students as they launch their professional careers. We are excited to increase our contributions to New Haven Promise and build upon the great work that Patricia Melton and her team have created.”
Tubyez Cropper, a New Haven Promise scholar who graduated from New Haven’s Achievement First Amistad Academy in 2014 and from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania in 2018, held several New Haven Promise summer internships as an undergraduate. He now holds a permanent Yale position as the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s project manager — admin, tech, and communications. Those internships, Cropper said, prepared him well for his current role.
“I worked in Yale IT and web planning for two years and landed at the Beinecke right after I graduated from college,” said Cropper. “The program showed me how to properly carry myself in professional spaces, and it helped highlight my talents.”
In a recent blog post on the New Haven Promise website, former New Haven Promise scholar Aja Diggs, a 2014 graduate of New Haven’s Metropolitan Business Academy and a 2018 graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, described how she was an intern in 2015 for Yale Medicine Administration (YMA). She is now a full-time senior administrative assistant in the department, where she works in the office of Diversity, Inclusion, Community Engagement and Equity.
“The City of New Haven is an integral part of who I am,” wrote Diggs in the blog post, noting she grew up in the city’s school system and has been committed to community service in her home city. “I deeply resonate with New Haven Promise’s motto of ‘To, Through, and Back’ — to college, through college and back to New Haven. I believe in full circle experiences and I fully intend to give back to the city that has invested so much in me.”