Dr. Mike Richards, the President of the College of Southern Nevada, recently called the Promise movement “the most exciting thing happening in American higher education right now.”
Well, we happen to agree, but it is also the most innovative way to incentivize students to see a different path. And while the Promise movement has seen an array of funding options — from business, foundations, universities and even tax programs — there is a new one that is already here.
Take a look at the Phoenix Pact, which makes it possible for graduates of North Lawndale College Prep — a free, open-enrollment, public charter school located on Chicago’s Westside — to go to colleges where they are most likely to succeed, rather than colleges they can afford.
Starting with the class that graduated in the spring of 2015, the Phoenix Pact is, as President Barack Obama is fond of saying, “available for those who work for it.” Recipients must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average at NLCP, enroll full-time at an approved “Success College,” qualify for full Pell grant funding and meet satisfactory academic progress in college.
Officials at North Lawndale have been very committed to identify those “Success Colleges,” where students like the ones who graduate from NLCP have stronger chances of completion.
When the Phoenix Pact was announced this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who helped open the school nearly two decades ago, came back and told the audience:
“If you guys can start to prove there’s not just one amazing young person or one amazing teacher but systemically dozens of dozens of young people every single year (who) can graduate, and cannot just go to college but graduate from college on the back end, you start to let the nation know what’s possible. If you can create a model, the national implications are pretty big.”
Pretty big indeed.