Ethnic Gem: Patricia Melton
Title: Executive Director of New Haven Promise
State: New Haven, CT
As a social entrepreneur and trailblazer, Melton — the Executive Director of New Haven Promise — has increased educational access for communities across a variety of sectors including colleges, traditional public, public charter and independent schools.
In her two years, New Haven Promise, a place-based scholarship and support program, has seen increases in excess of 40 percent in both applications and awards while the rate of Promise-funded minority males has soared 140 percent. She has implemented several new initiatives, including Passport to Promise, the Promise Ambassadors Program – a peer mentoring initiative – and the Promising Leaders Program, a leadership and career development pilot created with Yale’s School of Management. New Haven Promise’s social media engagement has increased 12-fold, with a 19-fold jump in Facebook presence alone, giving New Haven Promise the biggest social imprint of any Promise program in the U.S. From November 19-21, New Haven will host 30 Promise programs from across the nation at PromiseNet 2014, to be held at the Omni at Yale.
Prior to joining Promise, Melton led several small school design teams, which created nine Early College High Schools throughout Ohio and Indiana. She contributed to Vincennes University’s early college replication effort, assisting with the startup of four early college sites across Indiana.
Perhaps her most challenging assignment before leading New Haven Promise came as the Chief Academic Officer for the third largest district in Indiana, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. The year after she implemented new strategies — using a distributed leadership model — that district met the standards of the No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress for the first time.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college, earning her B.A. from Yale University. That was followed by a M.Ed. (with a focus in business) from Arizona State University, where she was an inaugural member of the federally funded Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs Fellowship Program. Melton is completing her doctoral program and dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania.
A former U.S. Olympic Trials finalist and All American in track and field, Melton was honored with a career achievement award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) with a 2007 Silver Anniversary Award that recognizes former student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in their professional field since completing their college athletic careers. In 2013 she was the first African-American female to earn Yale’s George H.W. Bush Award, the most prestigious honor given by her alma mater’s Department of Athletics.