I just took in my second PromiseNet national conference, but the first one almost doesn’t count as I spent most of my time handling registration and logistics when we hosted in New Haven a year ago.
This time I was much more immersed in Promise discussion, learning from others and even passing on words of advice and encouragement.
In addition to that and paying homage to the 10th anniversary of The Kalamazoo Promise, we also worked in a good bit of fun.
On Tuesday night Cities of Promise hosted the first Promise Swag Swap at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange. The idea was simple. After the official PromiseNet activities came to an end, we kept the party going and engaged the Promise professionals who came far and wide through an exchange of apparel, an exchange of ideas and an exchange of laughter.
About 60 of the conference attendees took over the ground floor. Folks from Denver and Vegas. Oakland, Los Angeles, San Marcos and Richmond, Calif. Ypsilanti, Muskegon, and Wayne, Mich. The Villages, Fla., Pittsburgh and D.C. Dayton, Akron and Piqua, Ohio, were all there. Greenwood, S.C., Hartford, Conn., Rockford, Ill., La Crosse, Wis., and Philadelphia. New York City and New Haven, Conn. And even the PromiseNet hosts from Kalamazoo were there. (Click here for a full gallery from the Swag Swap)
We appreciated everyone’s attendance and support of the Movement. That’s what Cities of Promise is about — networking, showcasing and sharing.
And there’s also emotion. Bob Jorth, the executive director of The Kalamazoo Promise, admits to being quick to tears and when he introduced 12-year-old Antonio at the 10th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday night, he was a bit overcome.
You see, Antonio, is expected to be the first second-generation Promise scholar in Kalamazoo. His mother graduated from college thanks to the Promise and is now a teacher with Kalamazoo Public Schools.
Seeing generational results? Yeah, that’s reason to cry.