New Haven Promise
Although New Haven serves as the home of one of the world's premier universities, former Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., understood that the city's achievement gap and high dropout rates presented obstacles to improved economic stability. To counteract these potential barriers to a more successful city and make New Haven a top urban school district, the mayor launched a district-wide reform agenda called School Change. Galvanizing the support of local businesses, nonprofits, administrators, and educators, School Change led to an increase in high school completion rates among local students.
Acknowledging that a high school diploma does not alone guarantee professional success, the city also developed a postsecondary support program to make sure the New Haven educational pipeline leads towards a college degree. To help those without the financial means of attending college, the New Haven Promise program assures all residents with qualifying academic and behavior histories a full scholarship to any in-state public college or university and $2,500 for any in-state private non-profit institution. City leaders partnered with Yale University, New Haven Public Schools, and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven. Both Yale University and the Community Foundation made substantial financial commitments to New Haven Promise. Students with at least a 3.0 GPA and a positive behavioral record must complete 40 hours of community service to qualify for the program's benefits. New Haven Promise helps promote a college-going and completing culture through increased hope and accessibility among local students. Additionally, the city has garnered support from Yale students and other local young adults for its CollegeCorps initiative, in which volunteers sit down with New Haven Promise students and parents at their homes and discuss the benefits of the Promise program. By increasing parental support, CollegCorps hopes to bring down additional barriers to students' postsecondary success.