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Governor and Mayor announce pilot to expand Detroit Promise college scholarship program to four-year colleges & universities

Michigan Chronicle 

By AJ Williams 

November 28, 2016

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan today joined with students, educators and the Detroit Regional Chamber to announce the expansion of the Detroit Promise college scholarship program to include free tuition at four-year educational institutions.

The pilot program will allow any Detroit high school student who graduates with a 3.0 GPA or better, and scores over 21 on ACT or 1060 on SAT, the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree tuition-free. In the current academic year, over 700 are receiving two-year or four-year, last-dollar scholarships – funding that covers any shortfall after other financial aid such as Pell Grants have been applied.

Registration is open to seniors who live in Detroit and attend any Detroit high school. The final date for registration is February 1 for Universities, and June 30 for Community Colleges.

The expansion of the program has been introduced as a pilot for two cohorts of four-year students that began this fall and will include a second cohort that starts next fall. The additional funding is coming from private funds raised by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF), and the Promise partners are now developing options for the further extension of the program.

“The Detroit Promise is opening wide the doors of higher education opportunity to the young people of Detroit,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.  “Michigan’s largest city is now also the largest city in the United States to guarantee all its young people the opportunity to earn a college degree tuition-free.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Duggan announced the creation of the Detroit Promise to guarantee that in future every Detroit high school graduate will have the opportunity for two years of tuition-free college education at five local community colleges, whether they graduate from a public, private or charter school.  This commitment was made possible through the Detroit Promise Zone, an authority Mayor Duggan and the Detroit City Council created last fall to dedicate a portion of tax dollars to permanently fund two-year scholarships.

Since the program launch, this partnership between the Mayor’s office, Detroit Regional Chamber and the MEEF has provided College or University access to over 2000 Detroit high-school graduates.

For Detroit Promise students attending Community Colleges, a new program, the Detroit Promise Path, will see intensive success coaching made available to new students. The success coaching is modeled on an approach piloted in New York Community Colleges which has resulted in graduation rates doubling among low-income, first-generation Community College students.

“The Detroit Promise is changing lives,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.  “This program is one of the most significant ways we are removing barriers to opportunity for young Detroiters so they can realize their full potential in life without the burden of student debt.”

Registration is now open for high school seniors who will be graduating in summer 2017.  Detroit Promise staff are visiting Detroit high schools to explain the program, and interested students can talk to counselors or advisers to get more information. Students can also visit the Detroit Regional Chamber website for information on eligibility and to register.

“In order for Detroit to compete and win in the 21st century global economy, the city needs world-class talent” said Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We’re pleased to partner with Governor Snyder, Mayor Duggan, education partners and the funders to fulfil the Detroit Promise, and see post-secondary degrees increase in the city of Detroit.”

About the Promise

The Promise Zone legislation requires a private organization to fund two years of scholarships before any taxes can be captured. In 2013, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) took on that challenge and created the Detroit Scholarship Fund. Over the past three years, this has allowed the Detroit Promise to help nearly 2,000 Detroit high school graduates attend community college, tuition-free.

The MEEF and the Detroit Regional Chamber will continue to fund the scholarships for the next three years until the Detroit Promise Zone tax capture is permitted in 2018.

For high-school graduates who want to attend community colleges, the Detroit Promise Zone authority was created in March 2016 by Mayor Mike Duggan to dedicate a portion of tax dollars raised by the authority to permanently fund two-year scholarships. As a result, Detroit is now the largest city in the nation to guarantee all its high-school graduates a tuition-free path to a college degree.

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