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The Kalamazoo Promise and the Diffusion of a Private Policy Innovation

By Dr. Michelle Miller-adams and Visiting Scholar


unprecedented experiment in education-based economic renewal when it was announced that a group of anonymous donors had created the “Kalamazoo Promise ” – a scholarship program that guarantees full college scholarships to every student who graduates from the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). Behind the scholarship is an economic development agenda that seeks to revitalize the city and the region through a substantial investment in public education. It is an unorthodox approach and one that has drawn widespread national media coverage and the attention of dozens of communities across the nation that are emulating key aspects of the program. The Kalamazoo Promise differs from most other scholarship programs in that the allocation of funds is based not on merit or need, but on place. Beginning with the class of 2006 and continuing in perpetuity, every KPS graduate who has been enrolled in and resided in the district since Kindergarten receives a scholarship covering 100 percent of tuition and mandatory fees at any of Michigan’s 44 public colleges or universities. Graduates who have attended a KPS school and lived in the district for four years receive a scholarship covering 65 percent of these costs, with a sliding scale for those in between. There are almost no strings attached: students mus

Year: 2012
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