Kalamazoo Promise Turns Ten

Can the Kalamazoo Promise model work in a city like Detroit?

The Kalamazoo Promise celebrates its 10th anniversary this week. The Promise pays in-state college tuition for all kids in Kalamazoo who graduate through the city’s public school system.  It’s paid for by anonymous, private donors whose names have been kept secret over the past decade. Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with the only person who knows the names of the donors, Janice Brown, who is a Trustee with the Kalamazoo Promise, is the former Executive Director of the Promise, and former Kalamazoo Public Schools superintendent. Henderson and Brown discuss how the program has been successful for a decade, and whether the model could work in other cities, such as Detroit.

  • Promise: The Kalamazoo Promise scholarship gives every graduating high school student from the Kalamazoo area access and tuition to a participating community college.
  • Enrollment: Brown says because of the Promise, the enrollment rate for participating colleges in the area has gone up twenty four percent. “What we have is a community that is transforming itself,” Brown says.
  • Four-year college: The success of the Kalamazoo Promise has lead its recipients to be able to attend and graduate from four-year colleges in higher numbers as well. “When [students] know they that they have the tuition-free availability, they may and often aspire a little bit higher,” Brown says.


To hear more of Stephen’s conversation with Janice Brown, click the link above.