News Article

PYN News Article

America’s Promise Honors Outstanding Youth Champions at Fifth Annual Promise Night Gala

Tim Finchem, Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend, Juan Salgado, and T. Denny Sanford Named 2019 Promise of America Honorees for their work on behalf of young people

Category: PYN | Oct 25, 2019

WASHINGTON – America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, will recognize the work of four outstanding youth champions on October 24. The fifth annual Promise Night Gala will be held at the prestigious public high school Duke Ellington School of the Arts, in Washington, D.C. This year’s honorees are a community activist fighting youth poverty and inequity in Philadelphia, a renowned leader who catalyzed the world of golf to provide innovative learning experiences to young people, a trailblazing chancellor of Chicago's community college system, and a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.

The honorees will be presented with the Promise of America Award for embodying the belief that every young person deserves to succeed, and every adult has a responsibility to help make that happen. True to America’s Promise’s commitment to youth leadership, young people will play a major role in the evening’s program. Duke Ellington students will introduce each honoree with original spoken word performances and play pivotal roles throughout the program. World-renowned opera singer Denyse Graves will serve as the master of ceremonies for the gala, which will include a special posthumous tribute to Peggy Cooper Cafritz, founder of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

“At America’s Promise, we know that caring adults are essential in unlocking the keys to success for young people,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO. “Our Promise Night honorees exemplify what it means to be a caring adult, and I’m honored to celebrate their energy and tireless commitments to America’s youth. I’m looking forward to continuing working together on our shared vision in which every young person can access the opportunities they need to succeed.”

The Promise of America award, the organization’s highest honor, recognizes extraordinary individuals who have made an exceptional difference in the lives of young people and, through their work, have demonstrated the power of the Five Promises—caring adults, safe places, a healthy and safe start, an effective education, and opportunities to serve—to change the odds, transform lives, and build positive futures.

“America’s Promise believes in giving every child and young person the resources, relationships and opportunities to succeed,” said Gregg Petersmeyer, the chair of the America’s Promise board of directors. “Tonight’s awardees are shining examples of how that is done. Promise Night is our chance to express our nation’s gratitude to these individuals for their work and to reaffirm our shared commitment to improving the lives of all children and young people.”  

“America’s Promise was founded by top leaders in our nation to improve the lives of America’s young people and prepare them for success in the future,” said Michael Powell, chair of Promise Night. “I’m grateful for tonight’s Promise of America recipients, who are carrying out this important mission and bringing the promise of America to children both in their own communities and across the country.”


The 2019 Promise of America honorees are:

  • Tim Finchem is the retired third commissioner of the PGA TOUR. His contributions to the PGA TOUR, its tournaments and players, and the broader world of golf catalyzed a remarkable commitment to the positive development of children and youth. As part of Mr. Finchem’s mission to help young people succeed, he worked with the United States Golf Association, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association, the Masters Tournament, and other organizations to launch The First Tee in 1997. The First Tee has grown to become one of the largest and most successful youth development programs in the country, reaching more than 12.2 million young people.
  • Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), is an energetic thought-leader focused on driving transformation in poverty and inequity for youth and young adults. PYN has a track record of 20 years of success in Philadelphia, having created more than 192,000 opportunities for education and employment. To lead the organization, Chekemma draws on her experience in research, social work, and systems change to lead the creation of coordinated systems that promote academic achievement, economic opportunity, and personal success. In 2016, the Obama Administration honored her as a White House Champion of Change. Fulmore-Townsend serves on the Boards of Bethanna and the Community College of Philadelphia. As a leader, Fulmore-Townsend seeks to inspire passion, commitment and collaboration and believes that improving lives requires hard work, courageous partners and time for laughter.
  • Juan Salgado is the chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, overseeingChicago’s community college system, which serves more than 80,000 students across seven colleges. He has focused his more than 20-year career on improving education and economic opportunities for residents in low-income communities. Chancellor Salgado is a community college graduate himself, earning an associate degree from Moraine Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Chancellor Salgado has been nationally recognized for his work, including as a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, one of the most prestigious innovation prizes in the United States.
  • T. Denny Sanford is an entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to addressing some of our society’s greatest challenges. His leadership in venture capital and banking led to the establishment and growth of Contech Inc., First PREMIER Bank, and Premier BANKCARD, generating jobs and opportunities for Americans. One the country’s leading philanthropists, his charitable contributions of approximately $2 billion to support educational programs, scientific research, and medical services that touch the lives of adults and youth globally. For Mr. Sanford, it’s not just about “giving away” money. He is particularly interested in projects that involve identifying challenges, developing solutions, and then expanding access so they can scale rapidly and exponentially to increase their positive impacts. Mr. Sanford is the visionary of Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire, two education-focused programs initially developed through Arizona State University. The programs, which support the academic and social and emotional development of children into adulthood, are now based out of the National University System and are reaching more than 9 million youth.


To date, the presenting sponsors for the 2019 Promise Night Gala are General Colin L. Powell and Mrs. Alma J. Powell. Platinum sponsors are The Ronald & Jo Carole Lauder Foundation and Sanford Programs/National University System. Gold sponsors are Walton Family Foundation, NCTA - The Internet and Television Association, Helios Education Foundation, Edward B. Rust, College Board. Silver sponsors include Travelers, The Boeing Company, Michael and Jane Powell, The MCJ Amelior Foundation, AT&T, Agnes Gund, The PGA Tour, State Farm, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Marty Rodgers- Accenture and The Honorable C. Gregg and Julie Petersmeyer.


PYN, Inc.  
400 Market St.
Suite 200
Philadelphia, PA 19106