The Pittsburgh Promise

Pittsburgh, PA   |


The Pittsburgh Promise promotes high educational aspirations among urban youth, funds scholarships for post-secondary access, and fuels a prepared and diverse regional workforce.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Mr. Saleem Ghubril

Main address

1901 Centre Avenue Suite 204

Pittsburgh, PA 15219 USA

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NTEE code info

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

Economic Development (S30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Pittsburgh Promise strives to strengthen the region, inspire systemic change, and transform lives. When The Promise started in 2007, the City of Pittsburgh's population was falling; the urban, public schools were not serving our students equitably or well; and the workforce pipeline coming from our own schools was not robust enough to instill confidence in employers looking for local talent. With a partnership between the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the City of Pittsburgh, and a variety of corporations and foundations, The Promise was created to address these needs and to give Pittsburgh's youth hope for their own strong future. Promise Scholars can attend any accredited college, trade or technical school in Pennsylvania with a substantial scholarship and equip themselves with a degree or workforce certification that fits Pittsburgh employers' needs. After graduation, Scholars stay in Pittsburgh, raise their family here, and contribute to our communities in meaningful ways.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


The Pittsburgh Promise provides scholarships of up to $5,000 annually to all graduates of the Pittsburgh Public Schools who achieve at least a 2.5 grade point average, and meet the attendance and residency requirements of the program. Scholarships can be used for up to four years of higher education at any accredited college, university, trade, or technical school within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Population(s) Served

The Pittsburgh Promise's Career Launch connects Promise Scholars and Alumni with employers from top regional companies who have the potential to hire these scholars. Scholars learn about career fields, soft skills, and appropriate preparation for their job search.

Population(s) Served

Promise Coaches, embedded in Pittsburgh's high schools since Fall 2020, dedicate themselves to raising the number of and diversity among all PPS students attending college, trade or technical school. Coaches focus on post-secondary preparation, and guide students toward majors that best suit their interests and needs. Although Coaches will help all high school students, they will focus especially on African American students, who are least represented among Promise Scholars despite the abilities and goals they may possess.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups

Select post-secondary institutions in Pennsylvania which have extended additional academic-support, transitional services, and room and board money to Promise Scholars. These schools find great value in having Promise Scholars attend their programs, and wish to offer them meaningful incentives to attract and keep them in school. The list, which is constantly increasing in number, can be found at

Population(s) Served
Young adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students who receive scholarship funds and/or tuition assistance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program


Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Nearly 2,000 Pittsburgh Public Schools graduates have used a Promise Scholarship to attend college, trade or technical school in Pennsylvania during 2020/2121 school year.

Total dollar amount of scholarship awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Young adults, Ethnic and racial groups, Economically disadvantaged people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program


Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

$7.8 million in scholarship dollars has supported Pittsburgh Promise Scholars at 139 institutions across Pennsylvania for the 2020/2021 School year. This covers room, board, books, fees.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

~ Send all eligible urban youth to college or trade school with a scholarship.

~ Promote the reform of urban schools so that young people are prepared for successful and meaningful lives.

~ Invest in our region's workforce by preparing the next generation of workers to meet the demands and opportunities of our economy.

~ Raise $265 million in order to fulfill our promise for generations to come.

The Pittsburgh Promise's staff, board, and volunteers are regularly connecting the organization to potential donors, are giving to our overall fundraising goal themselves, and are communicating the accomplishments of our students to our community thus indicating the value of The Promise to our businesses and the neighborhoods in which we all live, work and/or play.

Promise staff, teachers, and trained high school leaders called Student Ambassadors are in the Pittsburgh Public Schools daily talking about The Promise and helping students to become "Promise Ready." The culture of the Pittsburgh Public Schools has changed since The Promise's inception to focus on better attendance in the schools (K-12) and achieving at least a 2.5 grade point average. For students on the cusp of these requirements, additional programs have been put into place to guide them academically and socially so they might be able to set higher standards for themselves and achieve them.

We are in daily contact with employers and potential employers who need trained and educated employees to fill their workforce needs now and in the future. The information we absorb is shared with the school leadership, and partnerships have been put into place to bolster the credentials of students in Career and Technical Education before they graduate from high school making them far more work-ready than their counterparts from other schools. Because Pittsburgh Public School graduates may go to any accredited school in Pennsylvania, they have endless career opportunities.

A highly experienced staff which is dedicated to the mission of The Pittsburgh Promise represents The Promise in all sectors of our city on a daily basis. In addition, we are blessed with a plethora of volunteers who raise money and awareness for our mission and the benefits that it provides to Western Pennsylvania. Teachers, administrators, parents and guardians within the Pittsburgh Public Schools also are great supporters of The Promise and utilize The Promise as a motivator for our young people. Promise Coaches will be embedded in our high schools starting in Fall 2020 to give special attention to the college preparatory process, and will guide struggling students toward eligibility for Promise Scholarships. This multi-faceted team of people works hard to promote The Promise and demonstrate its value.

Pittsburgh Public School graduation rates have increased from 63% in 2007 to 79% in 2018. We want this rate to continue to increase.

The gap between the high school graduation rate of Caucasian and African American students was reduced from a high of 15 percentage points in 2011, to eight percentage points in 2018.

PPS students who are enrolled in post-secondary education during the first two years after high school has increased from 57% in 2005 to 63% in 2017. We want this rate to continue to increase.

As of January 2019, 3,467 Promise scholars have received their degree or workforce certification.

Promise scholars complete Bachelors degrees at rates comparable to, or better than, national rates.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We serve students and graduated from the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Student organizations,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We adopted a new strategy to support students negatively impacted my the recent pandemic. This occurred through policy changes to scholarship eligibility and duration criteria.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    The Promise is working to promote high educational aspirations among urban youth on a consistent basis.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,


The Pittsburgh Promise

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Pittsburgh Promise

Board of directors
as of 7/19/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Franco Harris

Super Bakery, Inc./ Member of the NFL Hall of Fame

Mark Laskow

Greycourt and Company

Anthony Hamlet

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Saleem Ghubril

The Pittsburgh Promise

Franco Harris

Super Bakery, Inc/ Member of NFL Hall of Fame

Kiya Tomlin

Uptown Sweats by Kiya Tomlin

Anne Lewis

Oxford Development Company

Debra Kline Demchak

Community Leader

Bill Peduto

City of Pittsburgh

Chester Babst

Babst Calland

Kirk Johnson

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

James Taylor


Thomas Lang

PNC Financial Services

Jackie Perlow

Education Law Center

Blake Ruttenberg

American Textile Company

Candi Castleberry Singleton


James Spencer

Exus Management Partners

Laurie Barkman

Small Dot Big LLC

Joshua Devine

Fourth Economy Consulting

Lisa Schroeder

The Pittsburgh Foundation

Eric Boughner

BNY Mellon Pennsylvania

John Hathaway

Primerock Capital

Aleta Richards


Lisa Witte

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Vanessa Thompson

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/23/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/23/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.