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Detroit Scholarship Fund Work Paves Way for the Detroit Promise

The Detroit Regional Chamber joined Mayor Mike Duggan this week in announcing the Detroit Promise Zone, guaranteeing Detroit high school graduates two years of free community college. The Detroit Promise was made possible through the work of the Detroit Scholarship Fund (DSF), which was created by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) and is administered by the Chamber.

The Promise Zone is an authority the Mayor and the Detroit City Council created last fall to dedicate a portion of tax dollars to permanently fund the two-year scholarships.

Picking up on the work of the DSF, the Promise Zone will provide a tuition-free path to an associate’s degree at a community college for a graduate of any Detroit high school – no matter whether private, public, or charter.

“The Detroit Scholarship Fund – now called the Detroit Promise is a result of a partnership between Gov. Snyder, the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation and the Detroit Regional Chamber. Today marks an important day because today our great Mayor is picking up this great idea and making it Detroit’s,” Chamber President Sandy Baruah said during Tuesday’s announcement.

The Promise Zone legislation requires a private organization to fund two years of scholarships before any taxes can be captured. In 2013, the Chamber and the MEEF took on that challenge and created the DSF. Over the past three years, the DSF has helped nearly 2,000 Detroit high school graduates attend community college, tuition-free. The MEEF and the Chamber will continue to fund the scholarships moving forward.

Baruah said the Detroit Promise is a game-changer for economic development and could help decrease the city’s population flight.

“Imagine every house in Detroit with a ‘for sale’ sign out front – with a sign next to it that says ‘This house comes with two years of free college for your child.’ Think that will help repopulate the city and help with economic development? You bet it will,” he said.

Students can attend Henry Ford College, Macomb Community College, Oakland Community College, Schoolcraft College and Wayne County Community College District.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school senior preparing for college now or a second grader whose college career is years away,” Duggan said. “The Detroit Promise will always be there to help make a college education a reality. My hope is that this promise is just the beginning and that we’ll be able to raise enough money to promise every Detroit high school student four years of tuition-free education at our public universities.”

Read more about the Detroit Promise and the Detroit Scholarship Fund.