At the Law School: Students helped bring ‘Promise’ to fruition

When New Haven Mayor John DeStefano announced the New Haven Promise program on Nov. 9, guaranteeing college scholarships for eligible New Haven students who meet certain standards, it had special meaning to the University community since Yale is a major partner in Promise.

The rollout also had special meaning to members of the Law School community, particularly several students in the Community and Economic Development Clinic (CED) who played a key role in the program’s implementation and who were seated in the audience that Tuesday morning.

“It was incredible to see the community’s reaction,” says law student Lindsey Luebchow. “There was a level of excitement and enthusiasm — from parents, students, teachers and education reformers — that we had not yet experienced after a semester of working in the trenches on the details of the program.

Luebchow and fellow law students Michael Love, Stephanie Lee, Kathryn Bradley and Cheryl-Lyn Bentley — together with Lydia Gensheimer of the School of Management — are part of CED’s non-litigation school reform group, which engages students in helping to reform education through means other than the courts.

Their involvement in Promise began in September, following a meeting last spring between Law School Dean Robert Post and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano at which the mayor outlined plans for New Haven Promise and invited Law School participation. Post brought the idea to CED co-director Robin Golden, who gave it the thumbs-up.

“It was a great opportunity to provide students with exposure and experience in an area of school reform other than litigation,” said Golden. “The wheels of justice move slowly and the traditional remedies within the purview of courts are not precise enough to address the barriers to school reform. This project group allows students to explore other ways to help solve one of our country’s most intractable problems — closing the achievement gap.”

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