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‘A major culture shift’: Pitt program gets funding boost to get more city students into college


Four years after Mae Knight graduated from Westinghouse 6-12 school in Homewood, she returned — as a teacher with a mission to shift the culture.

Knight was in the first cohort of students in a University of Pittsburgh program that prepares them for college with rigorous coursework, something Knight says Westinghouse was lacking. The Justice Scholars Institute out of the University of Pittsburgh recently received a half million-dollar grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation to expand its work and reach more students.

While Knight was in high school, she advocated for more rigorous coursework for the school, which teaches mostly Black and low-income students. At the time, the school had the district’s lowest number of Advanced Placement courses, which help students earn college credits if they pass a final test.

“[Board members and administrators] say we don’t deserve to get these classes because we’re just going to fail, which is prejudiced,” Knight said. “How do you know, when we haven’t been given a chance? Or if we haven’t been given the adequate early childhood or elementary school education to be able to do these things at this level? It’s not really fair.”

The Justice Scholars Institute has worked with Westinghouse 6-12 […]

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