New Haven unveils another element of Promise...

 
The following story appeared in the Thursday, November 18th New Haven Register:

 

 
Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
NEW HAVEN — Money for college is only one part of the New Haven Promise equation.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. Wednesday announced the other part: A partnership aimed at creating a culture in New Haven schools that college is a goal.

The New Haven Promise Partnership seeks to organize the community around students and their families so that all city youths have the support needed to succeed in school and go to college.

DeStefano stressed that the funding and the partnership go hand in hand.

“Because this is an earned benefit, we have an obligation as a community to reach out to kids to help them earn it,” DeStefano told a crowd gathered at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center for a panel discussion on school reform.

He was joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Jeff Brenzel, Yale University’s dean of admissions; and J.B. Schramm, CEO and founder of College Summit, a national nonprofit that helps school districts prepare students for college.

The school district’s partnership with College Summit aims to create college aspirations among students, starting in kindergarten.

The city’s Promise program will pay for college for students who live in the city, graduate from a city public or charter school and fulfill certain academic and attendance requirements. Yale has agreed to fund the program’s scholarship portion, while the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven will cover administrative costs.

The partnership, which will be phased in over five years, seeks to establish a college-preparatory curriculum for K-12 students as well as a corps of volunteers that will support students.

“It’s not enough to put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for kids who are going to reach that pot of gold anyway,” DeStefano said. “The New Haven Promise scholarship will only succeed for all New Haven kids if we make them the best that they can be.”

DeStefano said the Board of Education will be asked to approve a contract with College Summit worth about $290,000 in the first year, and vowed to pay the tab solely through fundraising.

Schramm said College Summit will work with teachers to enhance curriculum and guide students through the college process.

It will focus on five subject areas: academic excellence, self-advocacy, career-to-college connection, College 101 and financial awareness.

College Summit, which is already being piloted at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, will also work with elementary schools to develop college-centered curricula, starting as early as preschool.

Finally, the new partnership will create a “CollegeCorps” in high schools and the community to enlist volunteers to help further the mission of preparing all kids for college.

College Summit will select about 150 of “the most influential” 12th-graders to undergo a four-day training session at Yale and then go back to their schools to help their peers get on track for college.

“I don’t believe that ever again will a New Haven student think that their high school is a destination,” Schramm said. “From now on, New Haven students are going to see that their high school and their education is a launch pad for college and future success.”

Weingarten praised New Haven for “putting concrete steps in place to help kids be successful in life,” and she talked about the key role that teachers play in that process.

DeStefano, in turn, noted that New Haven Promise and the city’s School Change Initiative would not have been possible without collaboration with AFT.

News about the partnership was announced as part of DeStefano’s Chubb Fellowship at Yale, where he participated in two days of conversations about New Haven, School Change and civic infrastructure.

 
By Abbe Smith, Register Staff
asmith@nhregister.com