America’s Promise Alliance was born from The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future held in Philadelphia in April 1997.  That extraordinary event brought together thousands of leaders from across the country to refocus the nation’s attention on the needs of children and youth.  Attended by Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan), and chaired by Ret. General Colin Powell, that gathering challenged America to make children and youth a top national priority. Together, they signed a Summit Declaration that serves as the guiding force for the movement they started and for America’s Promise Alliance. President George W. Bush signed the declaration in July 2001.

The Presidents’ Summit, attended by nearly 30 governors, 100 mayors, 145 community delegations, and prominent business leaders, was convened by the Points of Light Foundation, the Corporation for National & Community Service and United Way of America. These organizations were joined by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Communities in Schools and MENTOR to become the Founding Partners of the America’s Promise Alliance.

Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell became America's Promise's Founding Chairman.  Today, Alma Powell serves as Chair of America's Promise.

Since 1997, the America’s Promise Alliance has grown to become the nation’s largest multi-sector Alliance focused on the well being of young people. Today, America's Promise encompasses more than 400 partner organizations representing the businesses, nonprofits, communities and policymakers.

In 2010, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined Gen. and Mrs. Powell in announcing GradNation campaign — the largest undertaking in America's Promise history — to mobilize Americans to dramatically increase high school graduation rates.

Today, the GradNation campaign is the centerpiece of work for America’s Promise, with the 2020 goals of increasing the national high school graduation rates to 90 percent, to  see that no high school graduates fewer than 80 percent of its students, and to dramatically increase college and post-secondary participation rates.