Idea Pod Magazine Fall 2017

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FALL 2017

The magazine of The Pittsburgh Promise

FALL 2017

The magazine of The Pittsburgh Promise

Idea Pod is completely funded through advertisements placed by Promise-eligible post-secondary institutions.




NextGen: iLab is Preparing Students to Lead Today


First Word


Dream Big, Work Hard, Give Back


Building Community


Books On the Cheap


Giving Glimpse


Putting in the Work


Career Spotlight


Introducing Preferred College Partners


Promise Voices


Meeting Expectations


Ask the President


Last Look


EDITORIAL Executive Editors Lauren Bachorski, Saleem Ghubril, Heather Hackett Contributing Writers Kristan Allen, Imani Chisom, Armani Davis, Catalina Escobar, Bruce Grover, Heather Hackett, Isha Laad, Theodore McCauley, Nandini Radhakrishnan, Alec Reiger Art Direction/Design Mason Tuite Photography David Bachman, Rob Gray, Heather Hackett Advertising Marsha Kolbe

Franco Harris (Chair) Member of the NFL Hall of Fame Owner, Super Bakery Inc. Anne Lewis (Vice Chair) Board Chair Oxford Development Company Kiya Tomlin (Treasurer) Founder & Custom Designer Uptown Sweats by Kiya Tomlin Debra Kline Demchak (Secretary) Community Leader Maxwell King (Executive Committee) President & CEO The Pittsburgh Foundation



The Pittsburgh Promise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and is an affiliate of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The Pittsburgh Promise is a partnership between Pittsburgh Public Schools, the City of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and other key funders.

Mark Laskow (Executive Committee) Managing Director Greycourt & Co., Inc. Chester R. Babst III Managing Shareholder Babst Calland William Benter Founder & Chairman Acusis Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D. Superintendent Pittsburgh Public Schools Kirk Johnson Senior Vice President Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Pamela Little-Poole Community Leader

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William Peduto Mayor City of Pittsburgh Jackie Perlow, J.D. Equal Justice Works Fellow Education Law Center Blake Ruttenberg Executive Vice President American Textile Company Candi Castleberry Singleton Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion Twitter Edith Shapira, M.D. Psychiatrist Private Practice James Spencer President & CEO EverPower Ian Stewart CEO of Treasury Services, BNY Mellon Chairman, BNY Mellon Pennsylvania James E. Taylor, Ph.D. Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer UPMC Demetri N. Zervoudis Senior Vice President Covestro Saleem Ghubril Executive Director The Pittsburgh Promise


YOUTH IS FOR HEROIC SERVICE Saleem Ghubril Executive Director The Pittsburgh Promise

As a 14-year-old kid growing up in the country of Lebanon, I remember saying my first prayer: “God, I just want my life to count.” I am not sure why I did that, and I didn’t think much about it until later in life. Because of that country’s civil war, my family fled to the U.S. in 1976; I was 16 and a junior in high school. I tried to find my way in my new country, but I struggled and made some bad choices that had bad consequences. Eventually, through the influence of positive peers and caring adults, I started volunteering with a middle school program. I also enrolled at a university, majored in accounting, and planned to go to law school.

I found a mentor, a college professor who challenged his students to make choices on the basis of how their choices may positively impact the world around them. “Go where you’re most needed,” he would say to us. He also taught us something that helped me understand why I said that prayer as a youth. I am not sure whether he was quoting someone else or if this originated with him, but he said “the age of youth was created for heroic service and not for entertainment.” I agreed then; I agree even more now. Our motto at The Pittsburgh Promise is “Dream Big, Work Hard, Give Back.” We really want you to have a great big imagination that envisions a great big future and demands a great big effort that results in a great big difference in the world. And we believe that you are made for that.

However, I found meaning, and my purpose in life, while volunteering with kids. The more I did that, the more I wanted to spend my life doing that. Although it probably was not necessary, I changed my major and looked for ways to make a significant impact.


In the City of Pittsburgh

90 Neighborhoods to choose from!

ATTEND Pittsburgh Public Schools


A Promise Scholarship


90% +

2.50 GPA

(cumulative and unweighted)

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Literacy mentoring gives mentors and mentees the chance to connect over reading fun. Mentoring has been a buzzword in the news over the last few years, but it’s so much more than that here in Pittsburgh. It’s a way of life in our community. The Mentoring Partnership (TMP) works to advance mentoring in Western Pennsylvania through our work with programs and community organizations. With more than 150 local programs serving 20,000+ kids each year, we know that Pittsburgh talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to mentoring. As a Pittsburgh Public Schools student, you may have experienced our work first-hand. Now as a high school student—and soon to be graduate—you may be considering ways you can give back. Whether volunteering with a program or offering support to kids you already know, mentoring is a great way to build strong relationships with others while helping them (and yourself!) grow.

Aerion’s favorite part about volunteering with RIF is connecting with the students. Working together is a great way to get to know one another and teach each other: “You learn new things and you get to see what the kids are interested in…some of the things that were relevant in my childhood are still popular and I’ve found myself saying ‘Hey, when I was your age, I was interested in that, too!’”

So what does mentoring in Pittsburgh look like? One great example is a program called Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh (RIF). RIF developed Everybody Wins!, a lunchtime literacy mentoring program that strives to build literacy skills and a love of reading in elementary school students. In this program, first, second, and third grade students are paired with community volunteers to share lunch, conversation, and good books.

Aerion says the benefits of volunteering are a two-way street. He’s giving his time and knowledge and he’s benefiting from personal growth by building relationships with others. Advice from Aerion if you’re thinking of volunteering? Do it! “In the bigger picture, volunteering is about helping to improve society…and you can’t go wrong with that.”

Aerion Abney is a Program Officer with POISE Foundation here in Pittsburgh. Five years ago, he was looking for an opportunity to get involved in the community, so he started volunteering with the Everybody Wins! Program at Weil Elementary. His background in social work wasn’t the only thing that gave him a great appreciation for volunteers. For him, it was personal, too: “I saw volunteering as a unique opportunity to help out someone in a way that I didn’t get growing up. When I was younger, I didn’t have a mentor/reading buddy outside of my parents.”

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Volunteering in the community is important to Aerion for a variety of reasons. Volunteering allows you to broaden people’s perspectives and horizons. It also gives you the chance to grow, learn, and evolve because not everyone has access to the same opportunities: “When you’re interacting with someone, you never know what their potential is and how your relationship may unlock it for them.”

Kristan Allen is the Director of Marketing and Communications at The Mentoring Partnership. TMP supports RIF and the hundreds of other local mentoring programs that are ready to accept volunteers who want to make a positive impact on kids.

GET INVOLVED Get a mentor for yourself: Visit and click "Find a Program" to search for programs in your area that can match you with a mentor. Become a peer mentor: Search for peer-mentoring programs at or apply to become a Promise Ambassador so you can mentor fellow students at PPS. (Read more on page 14.) Consider becoming a mentor after you graduate from high school: Visit and check out the "Trainings for Mentees" tab to learn more about workshops and resources.

Your Promise+Ours

“Because I’m graduating doesn’t mean my relationships will end. That’s something really special about Chatham.” Find out more about Maggie’s relationship with Dr. Appasamy at

Maggie McGovney ’17 Bachelor of Science in Biology

Sustainability Health & Wellness Business & Communications

Learn more at

Arts & Sciences

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An education that challenges you. The values that guide you. A location that inspires you.

And an experience that will define you. U.S. News & World Report’s Top 50 “Best Value Schools” 99% of freshmen receive financial assistance 80 undergraduate majors 14:1 student-faculty ratio 200+ student organizations


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Bhangra is a traditional folk dance that originates from the northern part of India, Punjab. Bhangra has enjoyed a spike in popularity worldwide in recent years, and it has left a mark on many Western countries that incorporate their own flavor to it. Bhangra is embraced in its traditional form, but also in a new form that encompasses a fusion of different musical genres and dance styles, such as hip-hop and R&B. Bhangra in the Burgh (BIB) is a completely student-run organization, with the majority of students from Carnegie Mellon University and some from the University of Pittsburgh. BIB is one of the largest student-run events in Pittsburgh. In its tenth year, Bhangra in the Burgh 2016 attracted over 1,000 people! The event takes about one year to organize. From reserving the venue to reviewing audition

videos and choosing the competing teams, months and months of passion and hard work go into the event. Even over summer vacation, the students involved maintain regular video calls for meetings and updates. Each year, BIB organizers select an organization to receive the proceeds of ticket sales. We designated The Pittsburgh Promise as our recipient in both 2015 and 2016, and have been able to donate over $25,000 to help fund scholarships. We believe that education is a powerful way of giving the younger generation, especially those who are in difficult circumstances, a shot at progress.

to our community during our time as students here. As Promise Scholars who benefit from the fundraising of groups like ours, we hope you’ll find ways to keep the cycle of goodness going!

Nandini Radhakrishnan and Isha Laad are juniors at Carnegie Mellon University who serve as Bhangra in the Burgh co-directors. Nandini studies Business Administration and got involved with BIB during her freshman year. Isha studies Information Systems and her BIB fascination began years ago when her sister was involved with the organization.

Despite our different backgrounds and reasons for coming to Pittsburgh for college, we’ve all become integrated into the Pittsburgh community. Becoming involved with an organization like BIB is a great way to give back

INSPIRED BY BHANGRA IN THE BURGH’S SUPPORT OF THE PITTSBURGH PROMISE? Get involved by making a gift to The Promise or attending Bhangra in the Burgh on November 18th!


MAIL Mail your check to: 1901 Centre Avenue, Suite 204 Pittsburgh, PA 15219


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Civil engineers have an exciting opportunity to design, build, and maintain innovative structures that provide solutions for everyday challenges in society. Whether you’re designing an airport runway or bridge, developing a storm water management plan, or remediating degraded streams and wetlands, civil engineering is a multidisciplinary career that you can ultimately shape to your specific interests. If you want to make a difference and are a creative individual, you’re on the right track to becoming an engineer. In this field, it’s important to be an innovative problem solver, to be curious about how products and processes work and to have good analytical skills. Civil engineers are typically skilled in mathematics and science, but a knowledge in relevant software programs, technology, and communication/writing are also necessary to succeed in the industry.

One of the oldest engineering disciplines, civil engineering can be broken down into several subcategories and focus areas. To name a few:

Designs, plans, and manages the construction of infrastructure including bridges, roads, tunnels, dams, and utilities, among others.

Plans and designs the operation and management of transportation facilities to make them efficient and safe.

Designs systems and equipment to manage human water resources.

Responsible for the design, development, and assembly of both airports and aircrafts.

Performs remediation work, aiding in the rehabilitation of a damaged environment.

Uses rock and soil mechanics to examine subsurface conditions.


Designs facilities that are symbiotic with the natural environment and processes that mimic nature to sustain a healthy Earth for future generations.

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Designs processes and facilities to extract crude oil or natural gas.

CAREER SPOTLIGHT The first step to becoming a civil engineer is to complete an engineering program at a college or university. These programs traditionally include fundamental courses common to all engineering disciplines, civil engineering-specific classes, and then classes pertaining to the sub-discipline you choose. Much of the knowledge gained in these courses is transferrable between disciplines, so don’t worry about choosing your subdiscipline right away. During this time, it also is imperative to start building a network of professionals and a foundation in civil engineering experiences. You can accomplish this through job shadowing, internships, research with professors in a subject area that interests you, and becoming active with student chapters of professional organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). There are also many worthwhile nonprofit groups for engineers to help local and international communities, such as Engineers Without Borders and Bridges to Prosperity. Don’t be afraid to network or get involved— you never know who could become your mentor or future boss.

Many civil engineers also choose to take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam during or after college, which certifies you as an Engineer in Training (EIT). After several years working and learning in this role, you can then take the Professional Engineering (P.E.) licensing exam to obtain more responsibility and opportunities. Civil engineering is an exciting field that provides many opportunities to grow as a professional and as a member of society, where you can help to solve complex challenges.

Catalina Escobar is a civil and environmental engineering associate in the Oil & Gas practice at Michael Baker International. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.


Michael Baker International, a global leader in engineering, planning, and consulting has been partnering with communities since 1940 to solve their most complex infrastructure challenges. Michael Baker International employs more than 6,000 people in over 90 offices located across the U.S. and internationally. VISIT THEM ONLINE: Website: Facebook: @mbakerintl Twitter: @MBakerIntl LinkedIn: Michael Baker International Instagram: @michaelbakerinternational

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"Trying to find your voice in a room that is already loud." That’s what comes to mind when I picture my experience transitioning from being a high school senior to a college freshman. I attend Duquesne University’s McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, where I’m double majoring in Theology and International Relations. I, like many other new students, was anxious and excited for what my college experience would be like. But when I actually arrived on my campus as a freshman I found myself feeling confused, misunderstood, alone, and uncomfortable. Coming from a public school with a student population over 60% black to a private Catholic institution where the population of students that identified as black or African American was a shocking 4% was a hard pill to swallow for me. I didn't see many people like me, very few of my professors looked like me or talked like me, and I felt like I didn’t see a space for me in the institution in which I invested my money, time, and energy. I was not prepared for the culture shock of higher education. Incoming college students are often told to look for support when it comes to grades, but there are many other stressors besides academics. In response to my own discomfort, I began to isolate myself. Receiving advice like, “Make your studies a priority”, “Don’t be distracted”, and “Focus on what you need to do to graduate” made my transition even harder to get through because not all of the woes of college students are things you can tackle by yourself. If there was one thing I wish I knew before entering my first year, it’s that it’s okay if you get overwhelmed at times—just remember to ask for help, because it is there. When I realized that I needed other people to talk to and share my experience with, the more the weight seemed to lift off my shoulders. I created a blog called "Honestly Imani Jai" where I talked about my college experience and many of the situations students face. I started joining university organizations on my campus that matched my interests, including the Multicultural Program Council, Duquesne's InterVarsity IGNITE chapter, and Ebony Women. I started meeting people, trying new things, volunteering around campus, and stepping





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out of my comfort zone. College started to become an enjoyable place rather than a burdensome one. Now that I'm through my first year, I’m excited to see what my next three years will bring. With the rest of my time in college, I want to help students on my campus who face the same problems I did. After I graduate, I plan to get my Master’s of Divinity and sit for my Doctorate of Theology and eventually become a pastor. Growing up, faith greatly influenced my upbringing and was always a large part of who I was. We've seen many people use religion to separate and oppress communities of people, but I want to use faith as a tool to uplift, unite, and empower people the way it has impacted me.

Imani Read more Voices at:

Tevin Scott

Liberal Studies Major

leadership Carlow’s serious about making a difference. I think it’s important to advocate for humanity. Carlow takes a strong stance on issues that really mean something to me.

What drives you? |

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Every year, thousands of students enroll at CCAC. It’s all about choice—nearly 160 programs that lead to rewarding careers and great four-year universities.

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Visit an upcoming Open House: Wednesday, October 25, 3:00PM–6:00PM Saturday, November 11 • 10:00AM–1:00PM Or email or call 412.237.3100 today.

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High school students are one of Pittsburgh’s most valuable and underutilized resources. You embody the next generation of business, creative, and civic entrepreneurs. You will be responsible for growing our economy, enhancing our culture, and strengthening our community. While not viewed by many adults as capable of leading growth, young people are a powerful and capable force for change. Our goal is to help you realize that you already possess the vision and ability to move our society forward through increasingly challenging times. NextGen Innovation Lab (iLab) is the first youth-focused, social venture incubator in Pennsylvania—and only the third in the country—designed to provide Pittsburgh Public high school students with the experience, skills, and relationships needed to nurture your potential to fruition. Launched with a leadership grant from The Heinz Endowments, iLab leverages students’ passion, creativity, and resourcefulness to develop your communities, while also growing your capacity to succeed in today’s increasingly complex world. By engaging student iFellows with a state-ofthe-art curriculum and connecting you with accomplished thought leaders from a diverse range of businesses and professions, we enable you to learn in new ways and empower you to actualize your ideas for social growth and change.

The iLab addresses one of our city’s most critical needs: developing young human capital that is civically engaged, and working more effectively to build our shared future. Collaborating in small teams, the iFellows conceive and create communal ventures in the following focus areas: education, economic development, arts and culture, environment, and wellness.

iLab launches in Fall 2017 and we are looking for passionate high school students to join our army of youth change agents. If you’re ready to shake up the world, we want to hear from you!

The skills developed in the iLab include data fluency, strategic visioning, planning, and project management. Learning these skills will prepare you for greater impact and success in a rapidly changing global economy and ultimately benefit our communities. Our neighborhoods and city face difficult communal challenges and we need more bright, young minds working on developing new, creative approaches to these problems. Our students must be an integral part of these solutions and iLab exists to do just this.

NextGen: Pgh. A Pittsburgh native, he graduated from

Young people are inheriting this world and need to be prepared to shape it. iLab encourages students to go after grand challenges and create your own meaningful work; not just in terms of profit, but with a focus on purpose as well. Our motivating question for iFellows is not, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Instead, we ask, “What can you do for your community today?” We believe the answer to this question is, “A lot more than most adults believe.”

Promises made.

Alec Rieger is the Founder and Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh and earned an MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Alec’s background spans careers in the music business and nonprofit sector, including stints with Warner Bros. Records and Unicef.


Follow NextGen: Facebook: @nextgenilab Contact Alec Rieger:

Promises kept.

For over 160 years, Saint Francis University has been keeping promises to students just like you. The promise of a better education and the promise of a better tomorrow. Today, 97% of all Saint Francis graduates are employed or in graduate school just six months after they graduate. That’s a promise kept. | Reach Higher. Go Far.

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Promise Ambassadors are Pittsburgh Public Schools students who you are likely to encounter tabling at lunchtime or sharing information about The Pittsburgh Promise at events. Promise Ambassadors are a cohort of seniors from each Pittsburgh Public High School who promote The Promise scholarship and postsecondary enrollment among their peers and in their communities. Ambassadors serve as “go-to” experts on The Promise scholarship and lead their classmates through the scholarship application process. The program offers an excellent opportunity to develop important communication, organization, and leadership skills. Ambassadors receive training to acquire mentoring, communication, and public speaking skills, as well as financial aid and college planning knowledge. Ambassadors are required to complete a minimum of 10 hours of talking to students and families in school and at community events per month. Becoming a Promise Ambassador lets PPS students earn a paycheck while learning about and preparing for postsecondary education. But it’s also a rewarding experience that offers a chance to give back by helping fellow students fulfill their promise.

Working together as Promise Ambassadors is just one of many ways these Pittsburgh teens are using their skills and talents to give back. In the next few pages you’ll read about the other kinds of volunteer work they do, what motivates them, and how being a Promise Ambassador is another avenue for them to strengthen their community.

The Promise Ambassador application process for the 2018-19 school year will begin in the spring. Interested students must submit an application, including an essay, and be available to attend all scheduled summer training sessions. Applicants must meet scholarship residency and enrollment requirements. The number of Ambassadors hired at each school varies depending on senior class size.

Heather Hackett is the Communications Coordinator of The Pittsburgh Promise and serves on the Ten Thousand Villages (Pittsburgh) Board of Directors. In her free time, she volunteers with several local nonprofits, including: Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives, 412 Food Rescue, Global Links, United Way, Fair Districts PA, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Email or speak to the Ambassadors or guidance counselors at your school for more information.

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3150-199_RMU Pgh Promise Ideapod 8.437x13.15.qxp_Layout 1 8/23/17 2:09 PM Page 1

$2000 SCHOLARSHIP RMU PGH PUBLIC SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP Beginning this fall, every Pittsburgh Promise student who chooses to enroll at RMU will also be awarded the RMU PGH Public School Scholarship, worth $2,000 annually. It's one more way Robert Morris University is keeping its promise to Pittsburgh.


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Ideally located. THAT’S THE POINT.

Doctorates in Clinical-Community Psychology, Community Engagement, and Leadership and Administration

18 Master’s Degrees (including multiple M.B.A. options)

86 Undergraduate Programs

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Books ON THE

Cheap COLLEGE TEXTBOOKS CAN BE EXPENSIVE BUT THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO CUT COSTS. Chances are that every postsecondary class you will take will come with a daunting list of complicated texts that might not make a bit of sense until you parse through their contents with your instructors and peers. These complicated texts will more than likely come with an equally intimidating price tag; knowledge is power, and power is, well… sometimes expensive. The difficulty of the textbook is outside of your control, but what is (at least moderately) under your control is how much money you will end up spending on these expensive texts. Below are some ways to pinch pennies as you check essential items off your future book lists. Maybe you’ll find one or more strategies that are just right for your situation!

BUY ONLINE This one may seem obvious to most veteran thrift shoppers, but more often than not the best deals are not found in campus-owned bookstores. When selling books online, distributors are forced to price match with other vendors because they know that the best bargains are the best sellers. Finding reputable distributors online gets easier every day. Check out Amazon or Chegg for some starters.

BUY USED Another advantage to buying textbooks online is the increased selection of used products. Many books being sold in “very good” condition will be completely free of blemishes and retain all its structural integrity at a fraction of the original cost. Books sold in “good” or “acceptable” condition might be a little dog-eared, and will most likely have highlights or notes written in the margins. The benefit to this is that books in these conditions will be even cheaper—and don't forget how much better Harry Potter performed in his Potions class after utilizing the old notes left behind by the Half-Blood Prince!

RENT Many of the books required for elective or general education classes are absolutely necessary to achieve a high scoring grade, but chances are you’ll never revisit their pages again once the class comes to a close. Textbook rental services were not widespread until my senior year of college, but they are one of the best ways for the newest generation of Promise Scholars to save money on knowledge. When I was a sophomore, I took Cultural Anthropology and spent over $100 on Amazon to purchase the required textbook. Today the rental cost for the same book on the same site is a little under $18. The savings on rentals are incredible, but be advised to treat your book with as much respect as you would a library book. It’s not yours after all! ideapod////FALL SPRING 2014 24 ideapod 2017

SHARE One of the best ways to optimize your enjoyment and success in a class is to coordinate your enrollment with friends or peers who you worked well with in previous classes. Having someone to trade class notes with is a great way to establish a community of mutual accomplishment while in school. If you and your friend are strapped for cash on a Friday night then you would divide the price of a pizza between the two of you and share the pie, right? Why not do the same with textbooks? Sharing a required text is a great way to develop a discussion around the subject matter, establish an accountability partner to study for the class, and ultimately cut the price of a very expensive book in half!

BORROW Some libraries will allow you to check out books on class reading lists for long periods of time. Check policies and plan ahead. Libraries have a limited number of books and they operate first-come, first-served.

CHECK IN One of the devilish patterns that you might not pick up on immediately in postsecondary school is that not every “required” reading is necessarily requisite. If this is the case, then most instructors will be very upfront about it. They might assign multiple books on the same topic because specific authors are better suited for different learning styles, or they might list supplemental reading under required text lists simply to save space. It’s obviously best to never play this game of chicken alone. Email your professor well before the first day of class, or check in with peers that have taken the class before you. Nothing is worse than dropping $85 on a hardback paper weight, but everyone ends up doing it at least once. Hopefully this list proves helpful when the time comes for your frugal search for reasonably priced books. If I could impart one last token of advice, it would be to stay proactive! The longer you wait to start tearing through your shopping list, the more you’ll sacrifice savings for expediency.

Theodore McCauley spent all four years of college masterfully pinching pennies. He is a Promise Alumnus who graduated from Pittsburgh Allderdice in 2008 and the University of Pittsburgh in 2012.


International Affairs and Political Science

Daily Views | Student Spotlights Weekly Takeovers

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Growing up in Homestead, I played basketball at the 9th avenue playground every day. Well, at first, I only got to watch. I loved the game, but most of the guys who played were older and much better than me. When it was time to pick teams I always ran to the front, threw my shoulders back, and tried to look as big as possible. This rarely worked, so I often watched games from the bench. I hated the feeling of not being picked, so I worked to change it. While they played, I would practice my dribbling and shooting on the opposite end of the court. I used the 10 seconds between the transition from offense to defense to practice as much as I could. Every day I got a little bit better. I eventually went from never being selected for a team to being one of the first players selected every time. I used this confidence to try out and make my middle and high school basketball teams. I knew if I worked hard and put in the effort I could be just as good, if not better, than everyone else who was playing. School didn’t come as easy as sports did for me, science in particular. Biology and chemistry were extremely hard for me. I could barely read some of the words in the textbook, let alone understand them in context. When I didn’t get the grades that I wanted, I shut down. I started to believe school wasn’t for me. It didn’t come to me naturally and that scared me. I was so down on myself that I began to believe that I couldn’t get better at science, which led to underperforming in other classes. Why was I so willing to put in the work to get better at basketball but not in school? It all came down to my mindset. I knew in my mind and my heart that I could get better at basketball, that I could grow and improve day by day. I knew I had potential, and that I would only reach it if I was willing to put in the work day in and day out. This is known as a growth mindset. Growth is resilience in the face of setbacks; the willingness and willpower to overcome obstacles. I worked daily to overcome my shortcomings on the court. In school, at first, not so much. I believed smarts were something you either had or you didn’t. I thought that some people were just better at school than

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others and were naturally gifted. My mindset was fixed around the idea that I knew what I knew, and that it was okay because everyone was this way. What I didn’t realize was that my classmates who were performing better than me were putting in the work. They read the assigned readings, they asked questions, they surrounded themselves with people who were also high performing, and they did well. This was no different than what I was doing on the basketball court. I was playing with better guys, practicing at every available second, and putting in the work daily to get better. If I wanted to get better at school I had to put in the same effort. I began to spend more time with my textbooks. It did not come easily, but I understood a little bit more with every assignment and test. I felt better about school, and started to see its connection with not only learning about subjects, but also learning about myself. My half-court shot came when my chemistry teacher asked me to use my lab notebook and grades to demonstrate student growth for her National Teacher Certification. There was no greater feeling than sitting down with a teacher whose class I’d thought was impossible to pass and watching her share positive words about my growth and potential. It gave me more goals and pushed me toward improvement all around. Everyone has to start somewhere. I encourage students to face their academic journey the same way they would a hobby or sport. When you believe that you can do something, no one can stop you but you.

Armani Davis is a We Promise mentor. He works as a Retention Specialist and Counselor in Robert Morris University's Center for Student Success. He played basketball, football, and volleyball at Steel Valley High School. He then went on to play football at Duquesne University and in graduate school at Edinboro University.

“Allegheny is doing the work that more schools should be doing: challenging students and holding them accountable to their potential.” Hilary Oswald, Editor, Colleges That Change Lives


Register now to visit campus —

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Preferred C llege Partners

The Preferred College Partners Program is intended to strengthen relationships between The Pittsburgh Promise and certain postsecondary institutions that provide additional financial aid and robust support services for Promise Scholars. Preferred College Partners will provide grants for room and board and/or books to Promise-eligible students who are accepted to the institution, beginning with the Class of 2018. The schools will also provide targeted transition and academic support services to ensure student retention and success.

Our thanks to these Preferred College Partners, who share The Pittsburgh Promise’s commitment to helping make postsecondary education more accessible and affordable.


















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Be certain to consider Preferred College Partner schools when beginning your postsecondary school search.


Visit the schools and ask about financial aid and support services for Promise Scholars.


Apply to all schools of your choice.


Complete the FAFSA ( and PA State Grant Form ( as early as possible (Oct. 1st) and no later than April 30th.


Once accepted to a Preferred College Partner school, reach out to the school’s financial aid office to learn more about your individual financial aid package. Financial aid packages will vary by school and by student.

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When you are in high school it feels like it’s the most important time in your life. I remember worrying about how people saw me. Now I know that high school is a short period of time and you don’t want to waste it trying to impress people who won’t even be your friends in the future. Even though I graduated as the salutatorian of my class, I felt like being the smart kid wasn’t the cool thing. I loved reading, I loved Harry Potter and Twilight and all that. I got teased. But I was also a strong athlete. That became my focus. I wanted people to see me as a basketball player and I chased that dream. Luckily, I also had some great adults in my life, setting high expectations for me academically. My dad, my family, my community—they pushed me. My dad was a marine and you didn’t mess with him. As far as grades went, A’s and B’s were the only acceptable option. I’m really competitive and I take pride in my work. If I’m going to do something, I want to do my best. I worked hard to get good grades. I also made a lot of decisions that my friends didn’t like. I didn’t go to some of the parties, I didn’t get in fights even though my friends were involved. I kept myself out of trouble and I’m so glad now that I stuck to my path. The right decision isn’t always the most popular one. I stayed involved in school to keep myself focused. I was in National Honor Society, the president of my student class, and on the basketball team. It was a lot. By the time my senior year rolled around, I wanted to take it easy. I even planned to leave school early and work part-time. Instead, my dad pushed me into every available Advanced Placement (AP) class. At the same time, I was playing basketball and applying for colleges. I’m thankful for that now. AP classes were no joke, but they prepared me for college courses. The teachers held the students accountable to the work. Dr. Adjey, my AP English teacher, taught me some hard lessons about accountability. Once I got to college, classwork wasn’t as much of a shock. 30 ideapod ideapod////FALL SPRING 30 20172014

When it came time to choose a college, I had to weigh my options. I decided to go to California University of Pennsylvania, mostly, because I could play basketball there. Looking back, that wasn’t the best idea. Now, I know that sports aren’t the only way to gain success and acceptance. Playing ball in college made it difficult to balance grades, work, and a social life.

Northside. It’s an honor to live in the neighborhood where I also work. Being a police officer goes hand in hand with being a part of the community. I treat my community with respect and they respect me back for that. I’ve even had people that I’ve taken to jail thank me for treating them well during the process. Those aren’t always the stories that people hear, but I believe in public service.

Lucky for me, California University was a good fit for me even without basketball and they offered me an academic scholarship. My parents didn’t have enough to pay for me to go to school and I wasn’t eligible for government grants. Between my academic scholarship, The Promise scholarship, odd jobs, and some other smaller scholarships, I made it work.

The adults in my life set high expectations for me. They checked me when I needed it. I had older people around me, especially black men, pushing me to be my best. I didn’t want to disappoint them. That’s part of the reason why I volunteer as a mentor in the We Promise program. I want to be that adult in someone else’s life. As a kid who grew up in the city and went to Pittsburgh Public Schools and now as an officer, I know I’m a good fit for We Promise students—they look like me and I look like them.

I majored in political science and pre-law but eventually I decided to study criminal justice as well. I was interested in the FBI. I never thought I’d be a police officer. It’s not that I didn’t like police officers, but I had opinions; I never called the police or had any interactions with police if I could help it. I had a professor who was a former city police officer who opened my eyes to police work and he encouraged me to consider it. After a lot of investigation, I realized it was a good fit. I want to be a solution for problems in my community and being a police officer allows me to do that. I graduated from the police academy in October. I believe that the police are the people and the people are the police. I’m proud of being a Pittsburgher from the

As told to Lauren Bachorski and Saleem Ghubril, Director of Communications and Executive Director at The Pittsburgh Promise. Bruce Grover is a Promise Alumnus from Pittsburgh Perry. He recently graduated from California University of Pennsylvania. He is a Pittsburgh Police officer and We Promise mentor.



Annually recognized for excellence by national publications such as Money Magazine, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Digest, and Washington Monthly.

With more than 200 programs of study, we have something for everyone, including our newest majors, environmental engineering and public health, and our unique teamwork minor.

IUP faculty have been singled out as being among the best in the nation by Princeton Review.

Student Loan Report says we’re a “top college” because of our work-study program, which is one of the largest in Pennsylvania.

You can spend your summer doing scientific research in any number of fields, an experience many other schools only give in graduate school.

Our students have won many prestigious national honors, including 12 Fulbright awards and seven Goldwater scholarships.

Our McNair Scholars Program helps first-generation and underrepresented minorities to pursue an education.

98 Percent of recent graduates are employed, in graduate school, volunteering, or serving in the US military.


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The $45 million Sis and Herman Dupre Science Pavilion opened the James F. Will Engineering and Biomedical Sciences Hall this fall.

READY FOR YOUR FUTURE Whatever your dreams, Saint Vincent College is ready to prepare you for a successful future.

• Top-ranked academic quality in more than 50 major areas of study, plus pre-law and pre-med • Merit Scholarships of up to $20,500 in renewable awards • 100 percent of freshmen receive financial aid. • Catholic, Benedictine values orientation in and out of the classroom


GET ACQUAINTED DAYS Open Houses for College-Bound Students and Their Families

Saturday, Sept. 23 Sunday, Oct. 29 ACADEMIC SPOTLIGHT DAY Friday, Nov. 10

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T R A D I T I O N 2470

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President We asked a President of a Promise-eligible school a question...


Dr. Quintin B. Bullock

Dr. Michael A. Driscoll

Dr. David Finegold

Dr. Ken Gormley

Dr. Paul Hennigan

Brother Norman Hipps

Dr. Christopher Howard

Sister Candace Introcaso

Dr. Suzanne K. Mellon

Dr. James H. Mullen, Jr.

Dr. Calvin L. Troup

Mr. Dennis Wilke

Aside from high quality academics, what advice do you have for high school students seeking the “right fit� for their post-secondary choice?

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COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY When selecting a college, there are many factors to take into consideration, starting with your academic interests. At CCAC, we offer nearly 160 programs taught by faculty recognized as experts in their fields. And with CCAC’s smaller class sizes, you have the opportunity to get to know your instructor and for your instructor to get to know you. Another consideration is cost. At CCAC, full-time students who live in Allegheny County pay just $1,650 per semester in tuition, a savings that can add up to $57,000 over two years when compared to other colleges and universities. And too, access to scholarships and financial aid can further help you pay for college. As a result, many CCAC students graduate debt free.


INDIANA UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA The classroom experience is important, but so much of what you will learn happens outside those walls. Find out about student activities, organizations, and clubs. Look for opportunities for extra engagement with faculty, including research and other collaborations. Does the university offer the types of performances and events that are different from those you may have seen growing up? Experiences new to you will help you to think in new ways, and to grow as a person and as a leader. Really look at the community. Remember, you will be living there for four (or more) years, and you won’t just be on the campus during that time. Try and choose somewhere that will expand your world view and your horizons in some way.

It’s also important to explore your options. At CCAC, there are numerous opportunities to get involved outside of the classroom—from sports, clubs and on-the-job work experiences, to civic and cultural pursuits, including opportunities to travel internationally, CCAC has many ways for you to enjoy a complete college experience. And thanks to CCAC’s articulation agreements with other colleges and universities, you have the option of seamlessly transferring upon graduation in order to continue your academic endeavors. At CCAC, our goal has always been your success.

Finally, when it comes to your success, people are everything. Pay attention to how the faculty, staff, and students treat you—and each other. Do the current students have a sense of pride and belonging? Are they friendly and welcoming? Are they interested in you and in helping you to find a place where you will fit?



Finding the right fit college or university is a decision that can have a major impact on the rest of your life and career. Here are three tips I’ve given to families around the world on how to approach this process:

When it comes to choosing a college, it’s usually about finding the right fit. I know that from recent college searches with my four children. I can tell you that students choose universities like Duquesne for many reasons, including its academic programs, urban location, size, and reputation. We attract students who love our beautiful, park-like campus overlooking the city; and the fact that within five minutes they can walk into a bustling metropolis filled with internships and jobs, cultural amenities, sports, and entertainment. Our students also want small classes taught by approachable faculty, and courses that will help prepare them for their chosen career paths. The social aspects of college life are also essential to rounding out an educational experience. Students thrive when there’s a sense of community. At Duquesne, we offer hundreds of clubs and intramural sports. And many of our students study abroad, often at our campuses in Dublin or Rome.


One: Start by visiting different types and sizes of institutions— e.g. large research university and smaller liberal arts college, twoand four-year colleges, faith-based or not, rural, suburban and urban campuses—to determine which feels like the right fit for you. The Pittsburgh area has a wonderful concentration and variety of different higher education institutions, many within a short bike ride of each other, so check them all out. Two: Once you’ve narrowed your focus, draw up a short list, and go see what they’re really like—arrange to stay overnight, hang out with the students, go to classes, and speak with the professors to see if this feels like somewhere you’d like to spend the next few years of your life. Three: Explore whether the institution’s prime focus is on what you’re most interested in: is it somewhere that puts the greatest emphasis on research or on the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience?

Without question, facts and figures need to be part of your decision-making process, but choosing the right school for you isn’t only about what you know in your head; it’s also about how you feel in your heart.

As you consider your options, I’d urge you to make campus visits—get a feel for the people and the place; it’s time well spent. College is an exciting time. I wish you success finding the perfect fit... for you.

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Students should keep an open mind when exploring colleges and universities. You should strive to find a university that challenges you, yet provides a supportive environment to help you embrace new challenges. The right university will offer rigor, relevance, and results.

Choosing a college is not like buying a car. There may be some comparisons—you can look at small cars and large cars—small schools and large schools—and at consumer reports, but a car is an inanimate object and a college is a living organism. How a student grows educationally is very much related to the environment in which he or she studies. You do not want to attend a university where you will be overwhelmed and frozen, nor do you want to go to a school where you will party all the time. You want to find that college where you will be challenged to grow to your capacity—where you will be stretched to become the best person that you can be. You should visit schools and meet with faculty, staff, and students and ask yourself “How will I function in this environment?” After an initial get-acquainted visit, return to the college, sit in on classes, spend the night in a residence hall, become fully engaged for a day. Then, based on these experiences, make your choice to be part of a community of living and learning together with faculty and fellow students inside the classroom and outside.

The right university should provide endless opportunities— academically, socially, and professionally. You should be able to see yourself succeed through the positive outcomes of the university’s current students and alumni. You shouldn’t have to wait four years to enter the real world. The right university should have faculty who integrate relevant experience into the classroom and feature innovative co-op programs, internships and professional networking to launch your career. You’re looking for the right university... for you. It’s a personal choice and process. Rankings and guidebooks can be part of preliminary research, but are not a substitute for visiting a university and interacting with students and faculty. Be intellectually curious. Talk to students, professors, and alumni. Sit in on classes. See where students are interning, having co-op experiences, or being employed. When you’re not on campus, explore the university’s social media. You’re trying to determine if this is a university that empowers you to thrive and embraces you as an individual.



At RMU, we say that our students are on the way to great jobs and great lives. That's not an empty slogan. We work closely with Gallup to survey our alumni so we can learn about their life outcomes and judge if they are receiving a fair return on their education investment.

When considering the best postsecondary choice, students should look for academic programming that is relevant to their interests and goals at an institution that can deliver a career-ready education. They also should evaluate how well their education will prepare them for work in an increasingly diverse and multicultural workforce, in a rapidly-changing global economy.

The results are encouraging. RMU students who graduated in the last 15 years are more likely than college graduates of the same age nationally to work in a professional or managerial job (77% vs. 67%) and to be employed in a field related to their major (84% vs. 74%). RMU graduates also are more likely to say college prepared them for life after graduation, more likely to earn higher salaries, and more likely to be thriving in their personal well-being, according to Gallup. Whether you choose RMU or another university, aim for these experiences, which Gallup research has shown to correlate with great jobs and great lives: - Professors who encourage and energize you and care about you personally. - Internships where you can apply what you learn in class. - Extracurricular activities and other opportunities to get active and involved. And regardless of where you are thinking of attending, visit our College Affordability Academy website at for helpful tips and videos about paying for college.

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Additionally, students should seek an institution that provides high-impact learning experiences such as study abroad courses, internships, service learning, and professional networking. They should ask whether the institution provides a variety of these transformative experiences, all of which will prepare them to enter today’s workforce as responsible citizens and confident leaders. Ultimately students should consider whether their postsecondary education will prepare them to become their personal and professional best. Consider the quality of the institution’s student support services and career placement rates. Find out whether the faculty is accessible outside of the classroom, and learn more about their professional backgrounds. These factors will help students decide whether the institution offers the resources, real-world insight, and support that they need to achieve their academic and career goals.



A college degree is a game-changer for your career—and for careers in the future that don’t yet exist. Find a school that offers the degree program in which you may be interested. Seek a school that offers you experiential learning (opportunities such as hands-on internships, undergraduate research, or community service). These experiences help you apply your learning in the “real world.”

Find a college that pushes you academically but also encourages you to explore your talents, interests, and skills in new and exciting ways. Those talents and skills are going to help you form meaningful relationships on and off campus, open pathways to your future, and make your college experience more extraordinary than would your academic record alone.

Make sure you are choosing a university where you feel comfortable and supported, and then use the support systems that are available to you. Never be afraid to ask for guidance— whether it is with academics, your own personal well-being, or career advice. And finally, stretch yourself. Always be open to new opportunities. Research. Study abroad. Get involved in campus life. Don’t be afraid to take risks that will help you grow. There is a world of opportunities available to you. I wish you the best!

A truly valuable college experience happens inside and outside the classroom. Find a college that puts a premium on experiential learning and then take advantage of any and all opportunities to put what you’re learning into practice, whether that means wading into a creek for an up-close study of salamanders, staging your own interpretive dance in a full auditorium, or serving an internship in a business or nonprofit. Finally, there’s no substitute for visiting a campus to get a feel for its culture. What values does the college espouse, and do those values align with your own? Is there a sense of pride among students, faculty, and staff? Is this a place where you’ll feel at home for the next four years, a place where you’ll be challenged but also supported? If the answer is “yes,” maybe you’ve found the right fit.



Find a core curriculum that inspires agility. Your major provides field-specific knowledge. Spend your other college course credits wisely—they should do more than meet general requirements. A good core curriculum helps you put your major to work and strengthens your community in the process. Geneva provides a coherent core in the liberal arts, including Bible and Humanities courses, to cultivate mental depth, practical reasoning, and communication skills.

I dare you to go borrow $100,000 and place this bet. There’s a 60% chance that you’ll make some money, but you’re not sure how much. There’s a 40% chance that you’ll lose it all. What do you say? Take the bet? Probably not, right? I wouldn’t either.

Pursue leadership and service opportunities. How will you engage in athletics, performing arts, campus activities, and the community? To make the most of college, you will want to participate in the campus culture. At Geneva, we offer a host of opportunities including NCAA DIII Athletics, performing arts, campus groups, ministry activities, and mission teams. Consider post-graduate connections. What’s your exit strategy? Look at options that prepare you well in college for the next steps after college. A good fit will offer local work opportunities, internships, and off-campus educational programs that equip you to step confidently into adult life. 96% of Geneva graduates take jobs or enter graduate school within a year after graduation; but they do much more, serving and leading wholeheartedly in their neighborhoods and communities.

But, that’s in effect what is happening every year with many of our area’s high school graduates. The national graduation rate for a Bachelor’s Degree is only 60%. And that allows for up to 6 years of study for a 4-year degree! It doesn’t have to be this way. You can move the odds in your favor by following these steps: 1. Decide now what you want your first job after college to be. You don’t have to plan your whole career now, but at least decide on the first job. 2. Find out the typical pay range for someone in that job, and compare that to the cost of the college you’re considering. 3. If the return on the investment looks good, then you’ve got a plan. But…. If you can’t decide on your first job, or, if the return on investment doesn’t add up, then the smart thing to do is to consider making a less risky bet. So, how do you make a less risky bet? Dare to consider a different college path, by starting with a 2-year degree. It probably costs a lot less and you’d be more likely to graduate. Many 2-year degree graduates go on to further their education, but in the meantime, they’ve earned a credential that can help land a good job now. And, landing that first job is how you win the bet.

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Promise FULFILLED. Your future looks promising, and Penn State can open doors. Take advantage of all we offer to help you achieve your potential. > Twenty campuses and more than 160 majors for undergraduates > Tools for success: academic advising, career planning, internships, scholarships and other funding options > Leadership opportunities through a variety of student organizations > Resources for multicultural students: educational services, guidance, support

Contact one of our campuses and take the first step toward fulfilling your promise.

Penn State Admissions— Pittsburgh Outreach 412-263-2900 Penn State Admissions— Philadelphia Outreach 215-246-3500 Penn State Abington 215-881-7600 Penn State Altoona 814-949-5466 Penn State Beaver 724-773-3800 Penn State Berks 610-396-6060

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Penn State Brandywine 610-892-1225

Penn State Hazleton 570-450-3142

Penn State University Park 814-865-5471

Penn State DuBois 814-375-4720

Penn State Lehigh Valley 610-285-5035

Penn State Wilkes-Barre 570-675-9238

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College 814-898-6100

Penn State Mont Alto 717-749-6130

Penn State World Campus 814-865- 5403

Penn State New Kensington 724-334-5466

Penn State Worthington Scranton 570-963-2500

Penn State Schuylkill 570-385-6252

Penn State York 717-771-4040

Penn State Shenango 724-983-2803

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. Produced by the Penn State Department of University Marketing. U.Ed. ADV 16-27

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus 724-430-4130 Penn State Greater Allegheny 412-675-9010 Penn State Harrisburg 717-948-6250

NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT: Mount Washington Pittsburgh has five city parks, including Emerald View Park in Mount Washington. Volunteers pitch in to preserve these green spaces by cleaning up trash, maintaining trails, leading hikes, and more.

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1901 Centre Avenue Suite 204 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Stay Tuned:

DUAL ENROLLMENT! The Pittsburgh Promise will soon be providing the funding to pay for college level courses at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) for juniors and seniors at Pittsburgh Public Schools. Students will have the opportunity to potentially earn college credit before graduating from high school, giving them a “head start� on their postsecondary plans! More information, including eligibility requirements and available courses, will be sent to homes in preparation for the Spring 2018 semester. Funds used by students while in high school will be deducted from their maximum Promise scholarship. Funding of courses by The Promise does not imply or guarantee college scholarship eligibility at graduation.

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