Keeping the Promise0
A promise is like a security blanket. It provides a sense of assurance for the future and serves as a constant that can be looked forward to. For many Kalamazoo Public School (KPS) students, The Kalamazoo Promise (Promise) is that security blanket.
The Kalamazoo Promise is a pledge that ensures students in Kalamazoo, who have been enrolled in all four years of high school, will be provided with tuition assistance to any of Michigan’s state colleges or universities. Since its establishment in 2005, The Kalamazoo Promise has generated tuition for thousands of students.
“I’m excited to see the vision that the donors had starting to really take shape,” said Bob Jorth, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Promise. “They believed that the Promise would have generational benefits.”
Jorth was right about the Kalamazoo Promise providing “generational benefits” to students. This year’s KPS seniors were in kindergarten when the Kalamazoo Promise was formed!
Although they didn’t quite understand its significance at the time of its announcement, KPS seniors Leasia Posey, Jack Uekert, and Sean Salamun have come to appreciate the advantages of the Kalamazoo Promise.
“I was in kindergarten when the announcement came out, so college was not on my mind. I really started being excited about it when I was in middle school at an after-school program where they were talking about the Promise,” said Posey.
“When it was announced, I was enrolled in Mattawan schools,” Uekert recalled. “[My] Dad came home and said, we’re moving. Moving to Kalamazoo was the best thing that ever happened to me. That was really great thinking by my parents."
Paying anywhere between 65-100 percent of a student’s tuition costs, the Kalamazoo Promise is delivering peace of mind to these soon-to-be graduates and their families.
“The Promise is a great advantage to me, a weight off my shoulders from a financial stand point,” said Posey.
Many college students struggle with the stress that comes with financing their education. Thanks to the Kalamazoo Promise, these students can turn their attention towards academics and extracurricular activities.
“I started a young Democrats club at Loy Norrix and worked as an intern for John Hoadley,” Salamun stated. “I’m in my third year of EFE for Computer Technology/IT and at KVCC learning to design and create websites.”
Nearly 14 years later, staff at the Kalamazoo Promise see students who are excited to learn and preparing for the next step; a trend that Bob Jorth is excited to see.
“As we are now 10 plus years in, we are seeing students that are prepared to take advantage of all that the Promise has to offer. This group of students is really the second generation Promise kids and I believe that the they are the most prepared class that we have had,” he explained.
So, what is the next phase for these young adults?
“My first thought was, that I would be a teacher,” said Posey. “I’ve moved on to an interest in photography, journalism, and creative writing. I will be attending WMU (https://wmich.edu/) in the fall.”
Uekert said, “I plan to attend K-College and play football. I will be studying mathematics or statistics.”
“I want to study computer science and political science,” said Salamun.
Whatever path these three choose, they will always be able to rely on their hard work and the Kalamazoo Promise to make their goals a reality.