Frequently Asked Questions
1. What was the impetus behind the launch of Honors to Prom?
Honors to Prom founder Fritz Kummer has been very concerned about the accelerating decline of the quality of education in the United States since he was a student in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, the U.S. was unquestionably the #1 ranked country in the world with respect to education. Today, however, the U.S. educational system has slipped drastically; not even ranking in the top 10 or even 20 (in some rankings). The impact of this precipitous decline is exacerbated when a student comes from a financially challenged family, while attending an equally economically stressed school or district.
It was this interest and concern in the quality of education in the U.S. that prompted Kummer to launch Honors to Prom (H2P), a non-profit organization that encourages students to excel academically, rewarding their efforts by helping to offset the costs of attending their high school prom.
2. Why is the program launching in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?
In 2014, Kummer was living in the Pittsburgh area and happened to catch a news clip about a young girl who was anonymously “gifted” a prom dress that she couldn’t afford by a fellow shopper. The girl, a student at Penn Hills High School in Pittsburgh, was shopping at a David’s Bridal shop for a prom dress. Unfortunately, the dress the girl fell in love with, even though it was reasonably priced, was out of reach for her parents, since her father had been out of work for several years.
As they were preparing to leave the shop without a dress, the clerk walked up to the girl and handed her a bag with her favorite dress inside. A bride who was also in the store that day had witnessed the girl’s disappointment at not being able to purchase the dress she loved, so she decided to buy it for her, then slipped quietly out of the store, unnoticed by the girl and her family. “The joy on that girl’s face was priceless,” said Kummer, “and the girl even promised to return the favor one day to another girl who couldn’t afford a dress.” That wonderful story was the inspiration behind Honors to Prom, and returning to Pittsburgh, and to Penn Hills High School, to launch the program, made perfect sense. Penn Hills District Superintendent, Dr. Nancy Hines, has been extremely positive and receptive to the potential positive impact that Honors to Prom can have on the district’s students who have had to deal with the fallout from previous administrators’ dubious financial actions and other activities.
Depending on the success of the initial launch of Honors to Prom at Penn Hills, the strategic plan is to implement the program there for the long term and to expand the program in 2018 to include other schools nationwide, including, specifically, Alief-Eslick High School in Houston, Texas.
In 1993, Kummer, with the support of Allysen Fuchs, a career instructor at Alief-Eslick High School with more than 25 years of experience in public secondary education, implemented a very successful high school hospitality intern program that is still going strong today at one of Kummer’s former hotel properties. After Texas, Kummer’s plans are to launch H2P at a school in his original hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and his newly adopted hometown, Boston, Massachusetts.
3. Must students belong to the NHS to be eligible to participate in H2P?
Originally, Kummer planned to offer the H2P rewards to only those students who belonged to their school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. After conversations with Penn Hills’ NHS faculty sponsor, Melissa Mosco, and one of this year’s Senior Class top students, Cole Bishop, the introductory program of the H2P was significantly modified. Both individuals were concerned that NHS students would feel uncomfortable receiving such significant financial support to their prom given none of his fellow classmates ever had an opportunity to be considered for NHS or chose not to participate in NHS.
The decision to re-envision H2P was also influenced by Allysen Fuchs, who expressed that some academically exceptional students were not able to complete the community involvement requirements for membership in the NHS due to family financial considerations and other factors. She stressed that it would be inappropriate for these students to be excluded from the H2P program.
Following the initial two- to three-year rollout of the program, in which all students (Seniors) will be eligible recipients of prom tickets, the ultimate focus will be on students who excel academically and maintain membership in their school’s chapter of the NHS. Also eligible will be students who qualify academically for NHS membership but are not able to be inducted due to other non-disciplinary circumstances. The program will then offer eligible recipients access to clothing, shoes, dinners, flowers, etc., in addition to prom tickets.
4. Will vendors donate dresses, shoes, dinners, etc? Or, will this be funded entirely by the non-profit?
The goal of H2P is to work with local restaurateurs, florists and limousine services along with national companies, such as David’s Bridal, to offer the H2P organization discounts of varying amounts to defray some of the significant costs associated with attending the prom. Through the H2P website, companies and individuals will have the option of making contributions to either the general H2P fund or to a specific high school’s program. H2P is currently going through the national process required to secure its 501(C)3 certification along with the individual state registrations required to accept donations.
5. How can people donate or get involved?
H2P is currently going through the national process required to secure its 501(C)3 certification along with the individual state registrations required to accept donations. That process is expected to take five to seven months. After that, individuals, organizations, and companies will have the option of making donations to either the H2P general fund or to specific high school programs listed on the H2P website. Through recommendations received from the website, the national H2P program will grow and expand to other schools in the United States.
6. Can someone nominate a school for inclusion in the program?
This capability will be a key element on the H2P website and is expected to be the primary source of selecting new schools at which to implement the HTP program.
7. Is there any other service like H2P?
To my knowledge there is no other organization with such similar focus on helping such otherwise academically exceptional high school seniors.
8. What will be your definition of success in your incubator school?
Initially, finding either a local organization, company, individual, or group that can take over the annual funding of the Penn Hills – H2P program for the long term, beyond the two- to three-year commitment made to the school. After that, finding other similar minded individuals, organizations, or companies in other parts of the country that can support the H2P program and expand into other schools and districts.