American Eagle donates $1M to Pittsburgh Promise as students celebrate signing day
Salvatore Roberto wants to go west.
But first the Brashear High School senior is going to Slippery Rock University.
Salvatore, 18, plans to major in parks and resource management at the Butler County school. Then he wants to be a park ranger somewhere out west. He said it would have been a lot harder for him to pay for college without a scholarship from The Pittsburgh Promise.
“I’m thankful I have it,” Salvatore said. “This a great day with all the Pittsburgh Public Schools students coming together and having a big celebration and recognizing what everyone has accomplished.”
Salvatore was one of the more than 1,000 Pittsburgh Public Schools students celebrating Senior Signing Day on Thursday at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland. The event, complete with music from DJ Underdog and students cheering, dancing and waving pom poms, celebrated students’ post-graduation plans to attend over 150 institutions of higher learning.
American Eagle Outfitters announced Thursday that it will give its second $1 million gift to The Pittsburgh Promise. American Eagle pledged $1 million in 2013. It donated $100,000 to the program in 2010.
Stacy Siegal, Executive Vice-President of American Eagle Outfitters said the company wants to empower youth.
“We’re really passionate about the Pittsburgh community so this is a really good fit for us,” said Siegal. “It combines Pittsburgh where we are based and our students that we can support. I have three kids myself and it’s just great to see what we can do for these kids and let them change the world as they get older.”
The Pittsburgh Promise provides up to $20,000 to assist with the cost of college and other higher education to students who have attended Pittsburgh Public Schools since the ninth grade, maintained a 2.5 grade point average, and 90% attendance.
“It’s an important day because it’s celebrating all of the seniors and their accomplishments through high school and their next step in life,” said Science and Technology Academy Senior Timothy Latham, 18.
Sporting a navy blue Penn State t-shirt, Latham said he will attend Penn State-Erie to pursue a degree in engineering.
“It was very important to accomplish this goal, and I’m very proud of myself. It’s a good feeling to see everyone together and moving on and seeing their next steps. Having The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship is definitely going to help me out financially,” said Latham.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds spoke and drew cheers and applause from the students when he told them that they can achieve whatever they want as long as they believe in themselves.
“Life is not easy. Throughout your life you have hardships; you have obstacles, and a lot of things that you go through every day,” said Edmunds. “But I can promise you this: Every hardship that you went through in your past that really carried a burden on your life, you’ve already been through it. You guys can do so much more than just go to college and get your education. You can be that CEO; you guys can be that millionaire, billionaire; you guys can do whatever you guys want to do. You just have to put the hard work in and stay on that mindset that there is always more meat on the bone.”
Edmunds was introduced by legendary Steelers Hall of Famer and Pittsburgh Promise Chairman Franco Harris who thanked the students for the work they have done the past four years.
“You have fulfilled your promise,” said Harris. “The promise of the city’s future lives inside of every one of you. And now you are getting ready for one of the most exciting chapters of your lives. Each and every one of you possesses enormous potential. You have to do your best to be the best.”
The Pittsburgh Promise has invested more than $130 million in scholarships and has helped send more than 8,800 students to college or trade schools.
Pittsburgh CAPA senior Lexis Wright, 18, says Pittsburgh Promise money is helping her attend the University of Pittsburgh and major in business marketing.
“I plan on changing the way that beauty is perceived and marketed to young females. I think that has a lot to do with the state of mind that a lot of young girls are in now. They seem to look to others to validate themselves and their beauty, especially with how products are being marketed. So, I hope to change that,” said Wright.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].