PITTSBURGH - A life and future is changed all because of a promise.
That’s becoming true for a growing number of young people in Pittsburgh thanks to the Pittsburgh Promise.
The Pittsburgh Promise was made to thousands of local high school students who likely wouldn’t be able to go to college.
Channel 11’s Trisha Pittman talked with one student Wednesday who said that promise has been fulfilled.
“My family was economically disadvantaged. I always wanted to go to college, however, it didn’t seem realistic because everyone knows college costs a lot of money. And we didn’t have that,” Shakir Wellons said.
The Pittsburgh Promise is a program that guarantees college scholarships to Pittsburgh Public School students who graduate with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.
“I’m forever grateful and thankful for the promise. I hope that it continues and can change the lives of other kids,” Wellons said.
The promise is hoping to reach its $250 million, 10-year fundraising goal. The fund has already achieved about 70 percent of that number, with $75 million still to raise.
"I don't think enough kids take advantage of it. I think it should be everybody. Everybody should be taking advantage of it because you're getting a scholarship for coming to school and performing. You're supposed to do that anyway,” Wellons said.
As a married man and father of a newborn, Wellons will graduate from Pitt in two months with an information science degree, and hopefully more.
“I’m currently interning with the City of Pittsburgh, and I’m hoping that I’m extended a job offer there. If not, I’ll be hunting for a job like everyone else,” he said.
Thanks to the promise, Wellons has extra competition in the job market. To date, nearly 1,100 students have earned a degree because of the fund.
In 2009, the graduation rate was only 65 percent. In 2014, it's up to 71 percent.