Tag Archives: Propel Schools

A Rain Garden at Propel Braddock Hills

This school year, students at Propel Braddock Hills are learning while  making their community and city a better, more environmentally-friendly place. Through a grant from Starbucks and collaboration with GTECH, Propel Braddock Hills third grade and sixth grade students built a rain garden to help prevent Pittsburgh rivers from overflowing. This initiative is part of Propel Braddock Hills’ unique science curriculum:  each grade level has been partnered with a community collaborator for a practical application component to the subject matter students study.

So, what does a rain garden at a school in Braddock Hills have to do with Pittsburgh rivers from overflowing? And what is a rain garden? And how does it improve the city of Pittsburgh?

There is an issue in Pittsburgh regarding storm water runoff and water pollution. Pittsburgh’s many rainy days, which average one-quarter of an inch, can cause raw sewage to overflow into the famous three rivers (as well as streams).  According to GTECH’s Megan Zeigler, it only takes one-tenth of an inch of rain overflow to overwhelm a sewage system. When sewage systems are not treated and properly maintained, the raw sewage overflows into Pittsburgh’s waterways,that can show up anywhere from manholes in the streets to flooding in homeowners’ basements.  GTECH states that, with the way Pittsburgh’s  pipelines are designed, all storm runoff from every drain filters into one pipe. When overwhelmed, it can get ugly – not to mention smelly.

A rain garden is an eco- friendly solution to help prevent sewage overflow …

Propel receives Dominion Resource and Dominion Foundation Grant

Dominion Grant

Thanks to Dominion Resources and the Dominion Foundation, six Pennsylvania schools will receive grants ranging from $3,000 to $35,000 for a grand total of $85,000 in Grants to Pennsylvania Schools. “We encourage projects that invoke critical thinking and relevant learning,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion. “Pennsylvania students must be prepared to meet the challenges ahead, particularly in the fields of science and energy.”

Propel Schools was one of the six school Dominion Resources recently chose for a Dominion K-12 Educational Partnership grant.  Propel’s $7000 award will be used to purchase  classroom and home energy kits for Propel Braddock Hills schools, to help high school students teach energy efficiency concepts and strategies to younger students and their families.

This generous grant is another example of the extraordinary science programming within Propel schools. Previously, Propel has been acknowledged for its “green” initiatives via two Governor’s awards: one in 2012 for a Sunflower Garden at Propel Braddock Hills, and one in 2013 for a beekeeping program at Propel Andrew Street.

The Pennsylvania grants are part of nearly $1.4 million given to schools in states where Dominion does business, including Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Propel is honored to be a recipient of this award, and to continue to provide  students with extraordinary, hand-on learning opportunities as part of their curriculum.…

Propel Congratulates 2013 Graduates, FAST Scholars

grads and scholars
The 2012-13 school year has come to a close, and with it many milestones that  inspired us. Among these was the naming of Propel’s 2013 FAST (Future Achievement Scholarship Trust) awardees. This year, we are proud to share that eighth graders Talai Despert from Propel East and TaeAjah Cannon from Propel Homestead were chosen by the FAST Selection Committee. Supported since 2008 by a generous donor, FAST Scholarships are awarded annually to eighth graders who must  complete an application,essay and obtain a reference letter.  Each K-8 principal chooses up to two student finalists, who also interview with FAST Selection Committee Members. FAST Scholars receive a  $16,500 scholarship towards college, provided in increments throughout their high school and college career. Congratulations Talai and TaeAjah!

Our older students also had many end-of-year achievements.  The close of the 2012-13 school year also marks the first time  that both Propel high schools have celebrated a graduating senior class. Propel is proud to share that  Propel Andrew Street and Propel Braddock Hills have a 100% graduation rate.  The Class of 2013 received over 100 acceptance letters from a diverse group of acclaimed post-secondary institutions, such as:


  • Albright College
  • Chatham University
  • LaRoche College
  • Ohio University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Community College of Allegheny County
  • Clarion University
  • Slippery Rock University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Hofstra University
  • Drexel University
  • Temple University
  • Hampton University
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • California University of Pennsylvania
  • Florida A&M University
  • Philadelphia University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Harrisburg University
  • Art Institute of

Propel Schools hosts Inaugural Student Business Plan Competition

Propel middle and high school students have captured the entrepreneurial spirit!  On Tuesday, May 21, Propel’s inaugural Student Business Plan Competition came to a close, as the winning team was announced and awarded a $1,000 prize to bring their business concept to fruition.

2013-05-21 07.26.41

Propel launched this business competition, under the guidance of Board Member, Josh Cotherman, to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs through the unique, real-world experience of preparing and presenting a novel business venture for investment. Since February, students from Propel Andrew Street High School, Propel Homestead, and Propel Braddock Hills High School have developed business plans while receiving expertise and mentorship from members within the Pittsburgh business community.  After carefully reviewing each student group’s concept and business plan, an esteemed judges panel narrowed the competition down to three finalists. The three finalists were:

Rikki”s Tweets
Rikki’s Tweets sells various baked goods for an affordable price. Rikki is the founder and a Propel Braddock Hills High School student , who bakes goodies from chocolate covered oreos to candy coated marshmallows on a stick. She has the business savvy to take advantage of the environment and resources available to her, selling items at lunchtime and at other student-driven events.

Ambitious & Co.
Ambitious & Co., run by students at Propel Braddock Hills High School, provides customers with original fashions, jewelry for a new and exciting look – and perhaps best of all – everything is eco-friendly, made from recycled items, for a truly unique fashion statement. Their main goal is …

A Day Without Shoes at Propel East

This spring, Propel East went without shoes for a day – for a good reason. Teacher Natalie Torti explains the larger meaning behind a seemingly simple action – and the impact it can have across the world.
One Day Without Shoes is a day of global awareness about poverty and sustainable giving that was created by TOMS shoes. The 7th and 8th grade students read selections from Blake Mycoskie’s book,  Start Something That Matters, over winter break and were inspired by his amazing journey. The book details his incredible experience,  which led him to start a “One for One” shoe company that donates a pair of shoes for each pair sold. After learning about TOMS, students were inspired to spread the message of giving to the rest of the school. They used time class time and their own free time to research, plan, and won an Innovation Grant to host the event!
Students worked tirelessly to make sure the event would be perfect: they set up stations to help the K-6 students learn through experience – truly an “everyone is a mentor, and everyone is mentored” moment.  Each of our students pledged to go shoe-less for one hour to spread awareness. During the Day Without Shoes event, the students even hosted contests and awarded prizes for the most creative and innovative thinkers.  One of the best parts of the day? They collected over 150 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls to be sent to Haiti.


That night, the 7th and