On Monday, the City of New Haven put out a press release promising “THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ANNOUNCEMENT EVER MADE IN NEW HAVEN,” caps and all. Yesterday, at 9:30 am, the press conference of a lifetime unfolded in person at the Co-op High School on Crown and College: Yale President Richard Levin, Mayor John DeStefano Jr., Governor-elect Dan Malloy and countless other dignitaries gathered to announce the creation of New Haven Promise. New Haven Promise is a scholarship fund that will reward students who graduate from New Haven Public schools with a 3.0 GPA and a good record of behavior and attendance with free tuition to any of Connecticut’s public universities or community colleges. The program would also give students the option of receiving a $2,500 annual scholarship to attend any independent (i.e. non-public) college in Connecticut. Yale has committed to fund the program for at least the next four years; other major donors include the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (CFGNH.)
So is New Haven Promise actually that big of a deal? Well, only time will tell if the program will have the transformative impact that many hope for. That said, in the context of ongoing reform in the city’s public schools, New Haven Promise sounds pretty promising indeed. In a simplified scheme, New Haven Promise could achieve three basic goals:
- The obvious: make college more accessible to New Haven’s public school students.
- Create a college-going culture in the public schools that boosts student achievement in the long term.
- Attract families to settle in the city of New Haven, boosting home values and contributing to economic development.
New Haven Promise isn’t the first program of it’s kind, and there’s evidence to suggest that other Promise programs have delivered real results. So was yesterday’s announcement the biggest EVER in the history of New Haven? That’s up for debate. But as Joe Beiden would say, it’s a pretty BFD.
Check out the City’s website for New Haven Promise here.