HARTFORD — Members of Hartford’s corporate and philanthropic community on Tuesday committed $4.1 million to launch the Hartford Promise, a college access program and scholarship fund proposed by Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, as an incentive to boost student achievement and contribute to the city’s economic growth.
Beginning with the class of 2016, the Hartford Promise will award up to $5,000 a year to every eligible Hartford resident student, attending a four-year college, who is enrolled in Hartford Public Schools since at least ninth grade, graduates with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and meets district attendance criteria. Studentswho plan to go to two-year colleges would receive $2,500 a year and students who opt to pursue a master’s degree in education would receive an additional year of support.
Today’s donation is more than a third of the $12 million that the Hartford Promise expects to raise overall to support the scholarships through the year 2023.
Flanked by the donors and the Hartford Promise “champions”, Superintendent Kishimoto announced the donation at a press conference Tuesday morning in the auditorium of Hartford Public High School on Forrest Street. Also joining her was Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
“The Hartford Promise is real now,” Superintendent Kishimoto said. “It will better enable our young people to have an impact on the world.”
The announcement included a ceremony in which 16 freshmen, one from each of the district’s high schools and themed academies, joined the superintendent on stage and recited a pledge to meet the requirements of the Hartford Promise by the time they graduate in 2016.
“Long-term economic growth in our city is impossible if our students don’t receive a high quality education,” Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said. “The more investment we make the more likely we are to have a trained workforce prepared for the competitive job market and the more likely they will remain to fill the jobs that exist here.”
The champions, whose role is to advocate, advise and raise the remainder of the funds for the Hartford Promise, include: Mayor Segarra; Robert E. Patricelli, Chairman, President and CEO of Women’s Health USA; Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of The Travelers Cos. Inc.; Ramani Ayer, former CEO and Chairman of The Hartford; Jeffrey A. Flaks, President and CEO of Hartford Hospital; Oz Griebel, President and CEO of the Metro Hartford Alliance; Marlene Ibsen, CEO and President of the Travelers Foundation; Linda Kelly, President of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Andrew Lord, Partner, Murtha Cullina law firm and George Weiss, founder of the Say Yes To Education Foundation.
Today’s $4.1 million donation came from six contributors: The Travelers Foundation ($2 million); Hartford Hospital ($1 million); the Say Yes to Education Foundation ($500,000); Mr. Ayer ($300,000); Newman’s Own Foundation ($200,000) and Mr. Patricelli ($100,000). Mr. Bessette and Mr. Patricelli have been named co- chairs of the Hartford Promise. Mr. Ayer will serve as fundraising chair. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving will act as the fiscal agent for the fund and the Murtha Cullina law firm will be the program’s pro bono legal counsel.
The Hartford Promise is modeled after similar programs that have developed since 2005 in many districts across the United States, including San Francisco,
Denver, Pittsburgh, New Haven and Kalamazoo, MI. Promise programs tend to have distinctive funding sources and different eligibility requirements. But they are all based on the principle that investing in education is an effective way to foster community well being and economic development, in that they stabilize school enrollment and create an educated workforce that is likely to remain in the area and keep local businesses competitive, officials said.