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Partners announces scholarship initiative

The leaders of Partners HealthCare System Inc. announced a $10 million initiative Thursday that will provide scholarships and mentoring programs at its hospitals for local college-bound students.

The scholarships are expected to serve more than 400 students over a 10-year period and will buttress youth achievement programs that include mentoring and internships at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. The students will receive scholarships up to $5,000 per year for four years.

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The commitment is in part a response to Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Success Boston project, which aims to increase the number of city high school students who complete college.

Speaking before a crowd of teens and health care leaders at Boston City Hall, Partners chief executive Dr. Gary Gottlieb said the scholarship program is an investment in students who need help finishing college.

“As the workforce evolves, a high school diploma or a GED alone is not going to be sufficient credential for many people to . . . identify a career that’s going to lead to economic self-sufficiency,’’ he said.

Dr. Peter L. Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, said the initiative is important because it provides for both educational and financial aid. While “sometimes the scholarship may be the difference between [students] being able to go to college or not,’’ it is the mentoring that gets them through, he said in an interview.

The initiative will help two Partners’ achievement projects: the Student Success Jobs Program at Brigham and Women’s and the MGH Youth Scholars at Massachusetts General.

Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, president of Brigham and Women’s, said in an interview that 37 percent of graduates of the jobs program return to work at the hospital and such initiatives are crucial to the students’ successes.

“It means the difference between looking for a job after high school, and it means going to college where the world is open for you with enormous opportunities,’’ she said.

Devine Williams, 19, has worked in a burn trauma and surgical critical care unit at Brigham and Women’s as part of the program and said he expects it will give him an advantage when he reaches medical school.

“Specifically, it’s given me a head start,’’ said Williams, a Madison Park Technical Vocational High School student who will begin studying biology at Northeastern University in the fall.

Before the afternoon announcement of the Partners scholarship, Menino was in Charlestown to give $1,000 college scholarships to six students from grades 3 through 5 at Charlestown’s Harvard-Kent Elementary School.

Globe correspondent Johanna Kaiser contributed to this report. Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at zachary.sampson@
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