This blog post provides some key quotes from Superintendent Roosevelt's and Mayor Ravenstahl's informal Q&A with reporters about the status of the Pittsburgh Promise.
You can also watch my Channel 4 Action News report at this link.
After they spoke with reporters, I sought comment from several Pittsburgh area foundations about the Pittsburgh Promise. Only The Heinz Endowments replied. Here's what it has to say:
"The Heinz Endowments and some other members of the foundation community are aware of the public statements made by Pittsburgh Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl about a plan to create a Pittsburgh Promise program, and their hopes that foundations would be contributors. We are awaiting a detailed proposal and possibly a formal meeting involving foundations, school district and city government officials."
"We at the Endowments look forward to getting details on the proposal as soon as possible, since the amount of money required to properly fund the program will be significant. It is important for the public to know that in the past several years, the Endowments and many other foundations have made significant increases in grants to the Pittsburgh Public Schools, with much of the funding going to help Superintendent Roosevelt implement his Excellence for All academic reform plan. We need to consider those commitments as we explore requests for funding new programs."
Now, to see the quotes from the superintendent and the mayor, click the "Read More..." link below .
Superintendent Mark Roosevelt :
•"Neither the mayor nor I have backed off this one iota. Why not just hear me clearly: we will have the money in place to serve the kids this year. I mean it's been stated categorically by members of the media that we will not. I wonder where that information comes from."
•"It's been stated that we expect the foundations to contribute all this money. We never said that. That was never our intention."
•"We are in very significant talks with folks about getting the promise funded."
•"It is naive to expect us to be here with everything in the bank and everything done."
•"When Pittsburgh gets this done--and Pittsburgh will get it done--we'll be only the second community in the country to have achieved that, and we'll be by far the largest to have achieved that."
•"When this happens, it will happen because some major players step up in major ways. That doesn't happen overnight."
•On whether they are lining up corporations as well as foundations in support of the promise:
"I'm not going to say-- and it would be unfaithful to discussions for me to talk about who is in line to fund it."
•On whether--without naming names--he can confirm if corporations in line as potential supporters:
"I would not use the expression 'in line'. Again, I would say we're in discussions with a great many people about what is possible here."
•On reporter questions about Pittsburgh Promise funding:
"I don't think asking the question is at all inappropriate. I don't think remarking that it's a big task in front of us is at all inappropriate. I have no problem with that whatsoever."
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:
•"Failure is to not think big, and that's what we're doing. We're committed to the Pittsburgh Promise and the concept of providing opportunities for our children and I'm not going to give up on that."
•On what specific actions they have taken to fulfill the promise:
"Working with the superintendent to have discussions with a variety of different stakeholders in Pittsburgh--corporations, non-profits, foundations, and we'll continue to do so."
•"The fact that nothing has been formally announced at this point should not suggest that we're not working hard toward fulfilling our goal and we'll continue to do so."
•On whether the class of 2008 will benefit as planned:
"When we made our announcement that was our goal--to provide education for individuals that graduated in the class of this year. Which obviously will take place in may or june of 2008. We're committed to doing everything we can to fulfill that. That's the pledge that we've made, and going to continue to work tirelessly to do our best to meet that goal."
•"At this point, obviously without funds raised, we would not be able to fulfill it right now. But it's our goal to meet the pledge that we made, to fund it for the students graduating this year and we're going to continue to work to try to meet that goal."
•Q: "How many foundations are you talking to?" A: "We're talking to all stakeholders in the the city of pittsburgh." Q: "How many are receptive?" A:"They're all receptive of the concept."
•"The future of our city is our children and we're all committed to that. It's an effort that's going to take time, it's going to take dialog. We made the announcement because we believed in the concept, and now we're establishing what that means, and how we raise funds, and getting folks to buy in throughout the community."
•"This isn't something that government can fund, this isn't something that one foundation can fund, or one non profit can fund. It's going to take Pittsburgh as a whole to get behind this concept, and that's really what we're trying to do right now."
•"We remain committed to it and we remain optimistic that the future of our children will be put first, and that the leaders of Pittsburgh will join us in that endeavor."
•"I don't know that there's any hold up. I think that we're continuing to have discussion and nobody said that we're going to be standing here at the end of August with all the money in the bank. We've never made that commitment. We still have time to raise the funds before the end of next year and we remain committed to doing so."