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The cycle of poverty is often a battle that spans generations. Students in Pennsylvania who fall at or below the poverty line often struggle to get their high school diploma – and without it they face a lack of job opportunity, little hope of moving out of crime-ridden neighborhoods and will likely spend the rest of their lives fighting the same poverty their parents, grandparents and great grandparents faced.

One of the best ways to break the cycle is to give students a chance at higher education. A new partnership with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and Communities in Schools of PA (CISPA) will give up to 100 students a year the chance to pursue a college degree.

 Starting with incoming fall 2016 college students, Harrisburg University will work with high school students within CISPA’s program to offer the Milliken Promise Scholarship. Named after the founder of Communities In Schools, Bill Milliken, a Pennsylvania native and his wife Jean who both dedicated their lives to serving those in need.

The Milliken Promise Scholarship begins in the Fall 2016 and is targeted at schools served by Communities In Schools. Awarded to students who apply through Communities in Schools of PA who are enrolling full-time in a degree program at HU. Applicants must apply for all state and federal grants before their respective deadlines. Interview may be required. Must apply by May 1st prior to fall semester. International students are not eligible for this scholarship. Full tuition less all federal and state grants and first $3,500 in federal loans.

“The biggest obstacle for high school students who struggle with generational poverty is the cost of higher education,” said Ryan Riley, president and state director of CISPA. The organization is the nation’s largest high school dropout prevention program, serving more than 1.5 million students nationwide and up to 40,000 in Pennsylvania.

Through the program, site coordinators are placed in area schools to use evidence-based research to eliminate barriers, such as homelessness, hunger, and social and emotion supports. Site coordinators also build relationships with students who are considered high-risk for dropping out of school.

“We know if they don’t graduate, there is a good chance they will rely on social services their whole lives,” Riley said. “With a diploma in their hands, their opportunities suddenly change.”

Even with a high school diploma, CISPA recognized the need to help students tap into their talents in computer science, mechanical function and other STEM-related programs.

“This partnership represents a commitment from our University to students who want to realize the opportunity of a college degree, said Dr. Eric Darr, President of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.”

For more than 20 years, Communities In Schools Pennsylvania has championed the connection of needed community resources with schools.  By bringing caring adults into the schools to address children’s unmet needs, CIS provides the link between educators and the community.  For more information, call 717.233.4330 or email, or visit