Yale increases its financial contribution to New Haven Promise by $1 million annually
Yale moderately increases its annual contribution to New Haven Promise, a college scholarship program that helps fund tuition for New Haven public school students.
When Koleyatu Sheriff was in high school, she was excited to hear about a college scholarship program called New Haven Promise, which could help students like her, who attend public schools in New Haven, to pay for college.
Having immigrated from West Africa to New Haven when she was around seven years old, Sheriff had lived most of her life in the city and knew that she wanted to go to college somewhere close to home. New Haven Promise, which would pay up to full tuition for students attending public and private universities in-state, seemed like a great opportunity for her.
“I was trying to do everything in my power to make sure that I received the scholarship,” Sheriff said. “Especially for people from New Haven, getting the opportunity to have their tuition paid for and to attend college — that’s something that you just couldn’t pass over.”
Sheriff made sure that she met the GPA requirements, had the required community service hours and fulfilled the various other requirements for the scholarship. She became a New Haven Promise scholar when she graduated high school in 2015 and was able to attend Connecticut College with financial assistance from the program.
With the help from the scholarship, Sheriff was able to graduate college with a low level of debt and move on to the next step in her life: graduate school. But the help from New Haven Promise did not stop there. When Sheriff was having a hard time finding a job after graduate school, she found a job at New Haven Promise doing outreach work and working with the Promise community.
“Basically, New Haven Promise has been helping me every step of the way,” Sheriff said. “Giving me the opportunities that I need to move on to the next step in my life.”
On Jan. 18, Yale announced that it will increase its financial commitment to New Haven Promise by $1 million annually.
Since its creation in 2010, the program has supported more than 2,200 New Haven public school students attending public colleges and universities in the state. The new commitment by Yale will increase the University’s financial contribution from $4 million to $5 million annually, through June 2026.
“As a co-founder of New Haven Promise, Yale is grateful to be able to increase our investment in the young scholars of our home city,” University President Peter Salovey, who is chair of the board of New Haven Promise, said in a press release last Tuesday. “It is wonderful to think about all the students from New Haven who will be encouraged by this program to study at one of the great colleges or universities in Connecticut. And it’s even more heartening to know that many Promise scholars will then bring their talents and expertise back to our city to launch careers and create new businesses.”
Many cities across the country have promise programs, which offer college scholarships to recent high school graduates to cover tuition at colleges in close proximity to the promise community. According to the College Promise Campaign, there are currently almost 350 promise programs in 47 states.
Patricia Melton, president of New Haven Promise, noted that Yale primarily funds the college scholarships while organizations like Yale New Haven Health and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven provide administrative and programming support. According to YaleNews, the University has contributed more than $25 million in scholarship aid to date.
“It’s really amazing because Yale is the only promise program and the only college that is funding a huge amount of scholarships for students to attend other colleges,” Melton said.
Melton said that one to two years ago, New Haven Promise started using up the full $4 million that Yale provides. Since then, she said that the program has continued to need more than $4 million to fund its scholarships due to college tuition increases every year. She said the program asked Yale to consider increasing the cap which the University agreed to. Melton said that the extra annual $1 million will all go towards funding the scholarships.
This increased contribution comes on the heels of Yale’s other recent commitment to increase its voluntary pay to New Haven by $52 million over the next six years.
Yale’s agreements with New Haven Promise are set for five-year terms.
“We have consistently renewed and remain engaged and committed to New Haven Promise,” said Lauren Zucker, Yale associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University properties. “Given the success of Promise, we are increasing our funding to meet the growing needs of the program.”
To earn the scholarship and become a New Haven Promise Scholar, students attending public schools in New Haven must meet certain requirements, including having parents who are residents of the city, a 3.0 cumulative GPA, a 90 percent attendance rate and 40 hours of community service. In addition to the main program, New Haven Promise also has a Passport to Promise program where students with a GPA between 2.5 and 2.9 can earn a scholarship after meeting the other requirements and writing a scholarship essay.
Melton said that the Promise’s aid depends on how long the student has lived in the state but can cover up to full tuition for students enrolling at in-state public universities. For students attending private universities in the state, the program provides up to $2,500 towards tuition.
All Promise scholars, including those who qualify as scholars but chose to go to college out of state, can partake in the program’s internship initiative. The internship program, which launched in 2014, helps scholars build skills necessary for post-graduation jobs. Deven Ladson, a past scholar and current communications fellow at New Haven Promise, said that the opportunities included an annual internship fair, resume workshops and connecting students with hiring managers.
Melton, who helped oversee the founding of the internship program, talked about the importance of New Haven Promise being a “full comprehensive economic development program.” She said the program focused on the “to, through and back”: helping students get to college, helping students get through college and then working with students to help them get jobs after college.
Malik Harris has lived in New Haven for his whole life and first heard about the program when it was in its early stages in 2010. As a 2015 Promise scholar, Harris’ scholarship covered 100 percent of his tuition for his four years at the University of Connecticut. He said the scholarship not only helped him financially during college but also after his college years, as he barely had loans to pay back. He added that his current internship at the Yale Center for British Art was a result of numerous internships that he held in the past thanks to the help of Promise’s internship program.
“I figured that if there were opportunities here [in New Haven] for me, since this is where I grew up, then I would definitely like to take them,” Harris told the News. “I’ve always had some level of interest in working for the University.”
Sheriff said that she was glad to see Yale contributing more financial assistance to the educational program.
“I’m happy that Yale did something like that because I was lucky enough to receive this opportunity from New Haven Promise,” Sheriff said. “If I see something like that happen to other students where more financial assistance is being given to them so that they can fulfill their dream of attending college, then it is really exciting and important for me to see.”
According to YaleNews, of the 2021 New Haven Promise scholars, 80 percent were Black or Hispanic and 69 percent were the first in their families to attend college.