Story by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria | File photo by 90.5 WESA
Vanessa Thompson had dreams of going to college but thought it was financially impossible, until she heard Saleem Ghubril speak at Westinghouse High School about the Pittsburgh Promise.
The scholarship program enables students living in the city of Pittsburgh and attending a Pittsburgh high school to receive money to attend college or a technical school.
Vanessa is now a recent graduate of Chatham University and is working toward her master’s degree. Saleem has been the driving force behind the Pittsburgh Promise, working tirelessly since its inception to make sure every Pittsburgh city student has a shot higher education.
“Seven years ago, in 2007, there was the early starts of a very aggressive school reform movement taking place in Pittsburgh,” Saleem said. “We made a commitment that we owe it to all of our kids to provide them with the most excellent education that are capable in every one of our neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh.”
Since 2008, 5,600 students have gone on to higher education, thanks to Saleem and his team, who have worked diligently to procure funding from many sponsors in the Pittsburgh area. Any child is eligible, but there are stipulations: They must graduate with a minimum GPA of 2.5 with at least 90 percent school attendance.
“Every child in the city of Pittsburgh is our child,” Saleem said. “Our view on this is that all kids are our kids. And if all kids are our kids, then I would want for your kids the same as I would want for mine, and I would not want for your kids what I would not want for mine.”