What is the mission and vision of Providence Promise? 

Our mission is to open the door to greater opportunities for Providence Public School students by reducing the financial burden of higher education.

How does your program make higher education more accessible for students?

Providence Promise understands that for many families the cost of tuition, room and board, required fees, and books is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a higher education.  Oftentimes, the amount of financial aid received is not enough.  Providence Promise will help students attend a college or trade or technical school of his or her choice by providing gap funding to cover the total cost of attendance, less any financial aid received.

 How do you work with parents and entire families to accomplish this goal? 

While providing financial literacy through our one-on-one enrollment process, we work with families to open CollegeBound Saver 529 college savings accounts.  Providence Promise families contribute an average of 1% of their household income to their individual 529 accounts for a period of 15 years. With the funds families are able to save over time in their accounts, and the “gap funding” provided by Providence Promise, we can ensure that all participating Providence Public School students have the financial resources they need to pursue education beyond high school. Additionally, by starting the conversation about higher education early, we can help encourage college-going identities in our students, and college-expectations in our families.

Do you have a particular goal(s) for the coming year? How many students and families do you hope to reach in 2018?  By 2023? 

Our goal is to have 500 families enrolled by the end of the 2017/2018 school year and 900 families by the end of 2018. Ultimately, we anticipate the enrollment growing to 40% of the Providence Public School population.

 How does financial literacy – for parents and for students – factor in to the Providence Promise model? 

Financial literacy begins at the initial one-on-one enrollment meeting. During these first meetings we introduce concepts around savings, budgeting, and the expenses surrounding higher education programs. Additional financial literacy will continue throughout the program within the Family Engagement program for both the parents and the students that will include workshops, events, and activities geared towards important topics in financial literacy such as introduction to personal finance, saving, budgeting, eliminating debt, financial aid, the FAFSA, etc.

 How do you foster collaboration between the City of Providence, the Providence School Department, the Teachers Union, and RI businesses and institutions to further Providence Promise’s mission? 

 Providence Promise has been endorsed by Mayor Jorge Elorza, the Providence City Council, the Providence Public School Board, the Providence Teachers Union, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island, as well as local businesses, institutions and foundations.  Providence Promise is a collaboration and partnership of all of our community, which is critical to its ongoing success. To this end, Providence Promise is seeking to build partnerships with programs which will benefit its goals and the goals of its partners as well as to seek contributions from community partners that have the resources to support its mission.

How can individuals, especially millennials, get involved and further support Providence Promise? 

We’d love to have:

  • Everyone share our information with Providence families with children attending Providence Public Schools or Providence Public Charter Schools. We are currently recruiting families with children birth to eighth grade in this first year.  In subsequent years, we will be recruiting birth to kindergarten only.
  • Volunteer support as we continue our outreach and enrollment efforts with plans to host a variety of events throughout the City.
  • Everyone visit our website, and participate with us on Facebook, and Twitter which will be crucial in spreading knowledge of and support of our work.
  • Individuals, businesses and institutions support Providence Promise by sharing these pages and our online fundraising platforms virtually within their networks to help us raise funds so that we can continue supporting Providence Public School Promise students throughout their higher education endeavors.

Twitter: @PVDPROMISE

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/pvdpromise/

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Candace Harper is the Chief of Operations at the Providence Promise.

The future for the students of the Providence Promise program looks bright!