Harris to receive humanitarian award

Former Steelers running back Franco Harris made Pittsburgh his home after his Hall of Fame playing career ended and in doing so embedded himself into the community.

Harris has been involved in a wide variety of charitable endeavors, from lending a hand to the North Side community where he lived for many years to his current role as the chairman of the Pittsburgh Promise, and the people affected by his efforts have been showing their appreciation.

Last fall, Harris was inducted into the North Side Hall of Fame for his philanthropic efforts on behalf of that community, and on Sunday, May 15, he will be honored by the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Sports Hall of Fame at its 29th Annual Induction Ceremony and Dinner at Congregation Beth Shalom.

"Franco is one of the greatest athletes our city has ever produced, and he has used his legendary stature to open doors for others willing to work hard to achieve their dreams," said Hall of Fame President Arnie Reichbaum.

Harris will be the recipient of the Manny Gold Humanitarian Award, which recognizes his commitment to education through the Pittsburgh Promise. Harris will receive the award from Steelers President Art Rooney II.

The Pittsburgh Promise provides college scholarships to Pittsburgh Public School graduates who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and 90 percent attendance. The scholarship amounts are based on how long the student was enrolled in the Pittsburgh Public School system, and they then must go on to attend a Pennsylvania college or trade school.

Currently students can be awarded with up to $20,000 in scholarship aid over four years, but beginning with the Class of 2012 that doubles to $40,000.

"With this we are trying to give kids a vision, hope and a plan for the future, and to let them know that we will pay for that," Harris said recently. "It is having a big impact in our city and touching on a lot of different aspects of the kids' lives here in the city."

The dinner at Congregation Beth Shalom will honor 26 scholar-athletes, and three of them will be awarded college scholarships.

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