Good things are happening in the Pittsburgh Public Schools

The Pittsburgh Promise and Pittsburgh Public Schools are embarking on an innovative education opportunity through the introduction of a workforce development initiative aimed at helping 10th, 11th and 12th grade students to pursue career and technical training, workforce certifications and post-secondary education credits beginning in the 2014-15 school year this fall. The program has been designed in collaboration with the Community College of Allegheny County, the Energy Innovation Center, the Sprout Fund, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, and other technical schools, and with insight, input and support from the region’s employers.

This workforce development initiative will prepare more students to be workforce-ready through post-secondary enrollment while they are still in high school. When it opens later in 2014, the Energy Innovation Center will be the largest intersection of secondary and post-secondary educational institutions working with private corporations in training and research for the benefit of city high school students and the region’s workforce. 

Participating students will receive an “advance” on their Pittsburgh Promise scholarship to earn up to 24 post-secondary credits (depending upon program), two regulatory certifications, two industry certifications, numerous skills badges, drivers education and a Pennsylvania Drivers’ License by the time they finish high school. Students continuing their post-secondary education after high school will receive the remainder of their Promise scholarship. Eligible students not enrolled in this new workforce development program and who enter post-secondary education program after high school will receive the full scholarship award as is the case today.

According to Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of The Pittsburgh Promise, “This new program underscores the fact that a high school diploma is just not enough, but a four-year degree is not always necessary.” The Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board agree that more than 60 percent of the 25,000 jobs that are currently available in the region require specialized technical training while less than 40 percent of those jobs require a four-year degree. Executives in the region who were consulted believe that the skill sets of the region’s workforce are not currently aligned with the needs of the marketplace.

According to the Pittsburgh Public Schools, 70 percent of their graduates are eligible for a Promise scholarship, but nearly 20 percent are not currently taking full advantage of the opportunity. This new program will be open to all Pittsburgh Public high school students and will engage them early with a relevant career path.

Commenting on the new workforce program, PPS Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane said, “Since its inception, the Promise has been a catalyst for change in our school system and has remained focused on improving the quality of education in our urban schools and has provided program and financial support for deploying well-prepared and diverse workers in the region’s workforce. We are grateful for the support of the community, educational institutions and partners in this project.”

Parents and guardians interested in enrolling their student in this program should contact the District’s Career and Technical Education Office at or by calling 412-665-2258. Information is also available at  The goal is to grow student interest in this program to 500 students by September 2016.

During the past five years, The Promise has invested approximately $49 million in scholarships to support more than 4,800 high school graduates who enrolled in more than 100 different post-secondary public and private colleges and universities, career training companies, and vocational and trade programs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Nothing will change with the primary scholarship program.

Career and technical training will focus on Advanced Manufacturing, Health Care, Information Technology, and Natural Gas/Energy. This collaborative will build on the strengths of the existing Career and Technical Educational programs (CTE) at Pittsburgh Public Schools, and will stack additional post-secondary CTE credits on top of them. Those credits will meet the basic competencies that are required by regulatory agencies, industry and the PA Department of Education.

The Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship program for Pittsburgh Public School students, advocates for improving the quality of education and increasing the preparedness and diversity of the region’s workforce.  It is one of the region’s largest fund-raising programs and one of the nation’s largest Promise programs of its kind. For more information about The Pittsburgh Promise, visit