The Palau Promise is coming to Micronesia and if it needs an Executive Director, I’m in.
The aim of the program is to limit the nation’s reliance on foreign workers (darn it) by producing a highly trained local workforce. And the intended result would also improve the quality of life for Palauan youth.
Cost is seen as a significant reason that many able students don’t go to Palau Community College, so the Office of the President has partnered with the college, the Ministry of Education, the Palau National Scholarship Board and the Office of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to create this tuition-free two-year initiative. The expectation is that 80 percent of graduating students in 2016 and 2017 will enroll. They will need to maintain a 2.0 GPA to keep the scholarship.
In addition, students will be both mentored and tracked to assure program success.
Palau, the setting for one of the seasons in the Survivor television series, lies about midway between the Philippines and Guam and has about 21,000 residents.
President Benjamin Harrison knew a rivalry would be afoot 125 years ago when he signed North and South Dakota into statehood. He even had the names hidden and the admission papers shuffled so no one would know which joined the union first.
So two weeks ago, when Cities of Promise wrote about the Promise exploration of Fargo, N.D. , we suspected that a South Dakota story was soon to follow. And we were right.
That’s because the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation is exploring the concept of offering college funding to all of its students. And like Fargo, the economic interests of the city are at the center of the examination. Sioux Falls is interested in having more learning opportunities for its young people, but it wants to retain those future college degree holders.
The Foundation’s chairperson, Amy Scott-Stoltz, told Patrick Anderson of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, “It’s tough to keep young people in South Dakota and Sioux Falls.”
Fellow board member Vernon Brown had read that similarly-sized cities in the Plains — Lincoln, Neb.; Rochester, Minn.; and rival Fargo — had a higher percentage of local residents holding college degrees. He pitched the idea to the board by asking, “What’s that big audacious goal we should be striving for?”
And while creating a college-going culture and retaining young residents would be tremendous, beating Fargo to the punch would make it even better.
Cities of Promise reported in January that folks in Greensboro, N.C., were excited about the possibility of becoming the first metro area outside of the Northeast to become a member of the Say Yes To Education network.
That initiative got a huge boost this week with the announcement of a $5-million commitment from the Phillips Foundation, which focuses on several components of Greensboro’s vibrancy. Executive Director Elizabeth Phillips explained the largest donation in Phillips Foundation history by calling the Say Yes initiative “a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Guilford County.”
The partnerships are being secured in cooperation with Guilford County Schools, the Guilford Education Alliance, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and the Community Foundation of High Point. Marquita Brown of the Greensboro News & Record reported that additional donations are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The only other public mention of an entity in the running for the Say Yes grant is Pittsburgh School District, which already benefits from the expansive Pittsburgh Promise program.
Greensboro expects to know the Say Yes decision in the coming months.
Roz Wiggins of the Yale School of Management offered the title “The Big Bang” for a segment about the Kalamazoo Promise in her Cities of Promise town hall case study last November at PromiseNet.
“It wasn’t the first place-based scholarship, but Kalamazoo was the first program of its kind that made a citywide commitment and it caught the country’s attention,” she wrote.
That “Big Bang” occurred at a city board of education meeting on Nov. 10, 2005, and now folks in Kalamazoo have rolled out the activities in a yearlong celebration of its 10th anniversary. The Kalamazoo Promise — which expects to enroll about new 500 recipients each fall — has awarded more than $60 million in anonymously-funded scholarships, leading to more than 1,000 degrees.
“We may never know those donors’ names, but we know how they helped bring this community together and how you’ve embraced their Promise not just as a gift to be appreciated, but a responsibility to be fulfilled,” President Barack Obama told the 2010 graduating class of Kalamazoo Central High. “We know how they have helped inspire an entire generation of young people here in Kalamazoo to imagine a different future for themselves.”
Under the theme “The Promise We Keep,” the events leading up to a formal anniversary include a series of community conversations focused on the barriers which have kept Promise-eligible folks from utilizing the award, a downtown community celebration in August and a return of PromiseNet, the national conference which was established in Kalamazoo.
“We knew that The Promise was a gift that would change lives,” Von Washington Jr., executive director of Kalamazoo Promise community relations, told Alex Mitchell of the Kalamazoo Gazette. “What we’ve learned over the past decade is that it’s a gift that can transform a community, but only to the extent that the community steps forward to make sure The Promise is kept for everyone.”