The Pittsburgh Public School district (PPS), Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) have partnered to launch the Pittsburgh Admissions Collaboration (PAC), in an effort to reach Pittsburgh students earlier and support them in attaining a degree. PAC was created to expand college access and address affordability issues by providing a pathway for students from PPS, to CCAC, to Pitt. PAC’s primary objectives are to fuel degree interest, increase matriculation, and improve retention and graduation rates. At this time, PAC focuses on Westinghouse and University Prep high schools – located in Homewood and Sugar Top (Hill District) neighborhoods, respectively – representing 9th through 12th grade students. PAC has partnered with Higher Achievement to offer programming for middle school students, 6th-8th grade, attending schools in Homewood, Hill District and West End communities.
During the school year, PAC students visit the Pitt campus bi-weekly to participate in college and career readiness programming. Students attend sessions related to the college selection and application process, major and career exploration, goal setting, financial aid, and financial literacy, among others. At each PAC session, students have opportunities to strengthen their public speaking, interpersonal communication, cooperative learning, and problem-solving skills. PAC provides interactive hands-on activities as well as an assessment and/or informational pamphlets for students to take home and share with their parents. When not in session, students can to strengthen their research and interpersonal communication skills by participating in PAC challenges, in which students are given a research prompt related to the next PAC session topic and have a chance to earn prizes. PAC students also have access to numerous resources, including guidance and mentorship by enrollment staff and current Pitt students and opportunities to attend free social and cultural events.
Once PAC students commit to the pathway program and enroll at CCAC, they become “Future Pitt Panthers.” In an effort to remove financial barriers and increase access for the Future Pitt Panthers, Pitt’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid provides students with for a Pitt ID (which provides fare-free transportation), access to Pitt campus resources, and four years of funding for undergraduate books. Additionally, Future Pitt Panthers have access to additional advising and mentorship opportunities. PAC participants who attend and graduate from CCAC are guaranteed admission to one of the University of Pittsburgh campuses and receive priority scholarship consideration.