The New Haven Promise: Mayor DeStefano Strikes Again

February 2nd, 2011

We last featured New Haven, Connecticut, Mayor John DeStefano in our Good Ideas collection where he introduced a municipal ID card for all residents, regardless of immigration status.

His latest project, The New Haven Promise, is aimed at students. Although the city is home to the wealthy and prestigious Yale University, it has a high school drop out rate of 38 per cent. And of the students who do go on to college, only half remain in their second year directly out of high school.

The programme aims to develop ‘college-going ambition’ within the school system by providing scholarships to state colleges and universities to local high school graduates, all funded by partner Yale University.

The New Haven Promise, announced in November 2010, was the result of a key question that was circulating in the mayor’s office: What does it take to help move an entire city forward into the next generation?
The answer, according to Mayor DeStefano, was simple: “The most powerful way that we as a city can organize and envision our future is around the aspirations and potential of our young people.”

Modelled on a similar program that was first started in 2005 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, eligible high school students graduating this year will have 25% of their tuition at state colleges or universities paid by funding partner Yale University. The following year’s graduates will have 50% of their tuition covered while the class of 2014 will receive their entire higher education for free.

The New Haven Promise is part of a broader move towards educational reform as well as a means to revitalize the city by attracting new families to New Haven. Even immigration status will have no bearing on a student’s participation in the program.

Says Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., “[This is a] contract that says to kids: If you work hard, you demonstrate academic achievement and display appropriate behaviours, we’ll give you the tools to go to college and therefore inject choice and opportunity in your lives.”

Source: Public School Kids Get A College “Promise” In New Haven Independent, November 9, 2010
Source: New Haven, Seeking to Get More Students Into College, Will Pay Tuition In New York Times, November 9, 2010

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