Yale-New Haven and Wells Fargo to back Promise

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Photo by Alon Harish.

Two more donors have jumped behind New Haven Promise.

Yale-New Haven Hospital will fund the college preparation and support system dubbed “New Haven Promise: Partnership” with a $2 million grant over four years, and Wells Fargo will contribute an additional $300,000. At a Friday morning press conference at the Metropolitan Business Academy on Water Street, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and University President Richard Levin congratulated the CEOs of the hospital and bank on their commitment to creating a “college-going culture” in the city’s public schools.

DeStefano announced the Partnership in November as a supplement to the Promise scholarship program funded by Yale and administered through the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven. Intended to help public school students take advantage of the college scholarships offered by the Promise, the Partnership consists in K-8 curriculum initiatives, intensive college preparation in high school, and community outreach.

“This is about challenging all of us, kids and parents, to change the question from ‘Will I go to college?’ to ‘Where will I go to college?’” DeStefano told a group of three dozen students donning New Haven Promise T-shirts.

In announcing their sponsorship, both Marna Borgrstom, the CEO of Yale-New Haven Hospital, and Kent McClun, Wells Fargo’s regional president for greater Connecticut, drew connections to the goals of their respective industries. A stronger education system will encourage residents to make healthier choices, Borgstrom said, and will ultimately improve the health and well-being of the community. That, in turn, will reduce the demand for health care and make it less expensive.

Supporting New Haven Promise is also in Yale-New Haven’s interest because of the college-educated workforce the hospital will depend on in the future, Borgstrom added.

For McClun and Wells Fargo, sending more students to college will help bolster the economy and substantially increase the earning power of each resident. McClun pointed to statistics showing that those holding bachelor’s degrees earn over their lifetime $1 million more on average than their peers with only a high school diploma.

“I just want all of you to take a look around, because we’re counting on all of you to replace all of us,” McClun said to the students in the room.

The Partnership will involve College Summit, a non-profit that works with 25,000 under-resourced students nationwide on college readiness and the college application process. Over the next four years, College Summit will integrate into all of the city’s public high schools.

Cynthia Perez, a senior at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School and a College Summit “peer leader,” said she will work in New Haven high schools to both encourage and help students apply for college.

“We help kids meet all their deadlines,” said Perez, who will attend Albertus Magnus College in the fall. “People are trying to help us, but we need to learn how to help ourselves.”

In November, Yale pledged to support the college education of any New Haven public school student via the New Haven Promise. Any student who maintains a 3.0 grade point average, 90 percent attendance and good behavior is eligible for the scholarship.

Three hundred and sixty of the 848 public school seniors who reside in New Haven applied this spring for one of the program’s first scholarships, making for a 42 percent participation rate. These students will only be eligible for partial tuition, as the program will not be completely phased in until 2014.

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