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Choosing Our Future: A Story of Opportunity in America

Kalamazoo Promise

Source: Educational Testing Service


Janice Brown: Trustee, Kalamazoo Promise, Kalamazoo, MI

Well, when I was superintendent of schools, I actually began a very informal, private conversation with a group of very wealthy people. One of the donors said, "You know, if we paid for everybody to go to college, that's what would make a difference in our community." That's really what began a very long conversation about what it might look like, what the value would be, what the return on the value might be. Until one fall, I had another informal meeting with the donors. They came up, they said, "We want to do it. We want the Class of 2006 to be the first recipients of the Kalamazoo Promise," which pays for all of the tuition for four years to a Michigan public university. And now we've added 15 private universities.

Sherry Welsh: Welsh and Associates, Kalamazoo, MI

It was the 11 o'clock news and I put it on and here was a press conference. I remember seeing a picture of our mayor, Bobby Hopewell, crying.

Bob Jorth: Executive Director, Kalamazoo Promise, Kalamazoo, MI

People will tell you stories about their parents crying.

Janice Brown:

Bob always get choked up.

Bob Jorth:

I always get choked up.

Janice Brown:


Pam Kingery: Executive Director, Community in Schools, Kalamazoo, MI

The community was really mobilized because of the PROMISE. People were saying things like, "Well, if other people can give lots of money to send complete strangers to college, the least I can do is volunteer to help a kid read better."

Jeff Hadley: Public Safety Chief, Kalamazoo, MI

It has given everybody the responsibility for the youth in our community. How do we prepare our children of this community to take advantage of that wonderful opportunity?

Janice Brown:

An investment in human capital this great is one that will pay dividends in this community and far beyond this community for many, many years to go. But to see the lives it's changed, I'm always so full of joy. My life is filled with joy at this opportunity to serve the youth in our community. That's what it like for me.