More than three dozen Promise programs from across the country — and other explorers hoping to join the Cities of Promise — will descend upon ground zero for the movement next week.
That’s because PromiseNet 2015 is returning to Kalamazoo, Mich., beginning Tuesday and concluding Thursday. In addition to speeches, panels and networking sessions, there will also be a gala celebration of the 10th Anniversary of The Kalamazoo Promise on Wednesday night at the Radisson Hotel downtown. (Cities of Promise is even hosting a swag swap on Tuesday night)
Our journey from New Haven, Conn., to PromiseNet will begin on Monday, which is the 5th Anniversary of the announcement of the establishment of the New Haven Promise. The picture of then-Yale President Rick Levin and then-New Haven Mayor John DeStefano was taken at that event on Nov. 9, 2010.
This movement is young, yet it is the most exciting thing happening in higher education right now. It is diverse as communities are finding new forms of funding and programming that are specific to their resources, needs and concerns.
As I’ve written before, a committed community does not need much to start a program. Taking advantage of existing resources and highlighting opportunities for scholars and families can lead to much more. We are seeing that in California with the Ontario-Montclair Promise Scholars program, which for a decade produced a college-going culture without a funder.
One of the reason the Promise movement is the most exciting thing in higher education is because it is supremely innovative. We are seeing combinations of business leaders, government officials, philanthropists and education administrators pulling together to solve problems that haven’t been resolved alone.
So our trip to Kalamazoo is a salute to all that has been accomplished and a celebration of what is yet to come.
PromiseNet is heading back to Kalamazoo, Mich., and registration for the event — which will take place Nov. 10-12, 2015 — is now open.
The early registration rate is $275 (though there is $50 per person reduction for those with groups of at least three). Those rates go up $25 per person starting Oct. 12. There is also a single-day rate of $175 for Nov. 11, which includes all-day programming followed by the Kalamazoo Promise 10th Anniversary Gala.
The kickoff event for Promise programs will be a luncheon featuring remarks from Wes Moore, a Rhodes Scholar and decorated Army combat veteran who has launched BridgeEdU. That initiative — which focuses on college completion and career placement — looks to reinvent the freshman year of college by providing a “softer on-ramp” to higher education. Moore has been well covered, including features on Meet the Press, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The View, MSNBC, NPR, USA Today and People Magazine. He also also hosts Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network and serves as the executive producer and host of Coming Back with Wes Moore on PBS.
The breakout sessions will cover considerable ground, including research findings on the impact of selected Promise programs, discussion on how to begin with fundraising and managing a Promise program and a focus on students beyond enrollment and graduation from college. Click here for the full agenda.
This will be the seventh PromiseNet conference. Last year’s event in New Haven, Conn. — the first one held on the East Coast — attracted more than 100 organizations, including a dozen from California. The video above was produced by New Haven Promise and you can click here for a series of images from PromiseNet 2014.
There is a broad range of Promise programs, but there are a small number of large comprehensive programs that supply millions of dollars in scholarships each year. The Richmond Promise in California is about to join them.
The Chevron Corporation — which has committed $35 million in agreement with a $1 billion modernization of its Richmond refinery — recently handed over its first check, a large one of $8 million to get the Promise started. The first recipients are expected to be the rising high school seniors of the Class of 2016.
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay — who was part of a six-person exploratory team at PromiseNet in November — told the Richmond Standard that college readiness was going to be an important component to the programming. He also said that the city hoped to leverage the Chevron commitment into $150 million in additional funds from foundations and private individuals.
Community leaders and school officials have yet to determine how funds will be distributed, but there is a call to make college both “attainable and affordable” for the most possible students. Vice Mayor Jael Myrick — who led the charge for the Richmond Promise as a city councilor — called the opportunity “transformative” and “game-changing.”
“This is real; this is happening,” Myrick said. “We expect young people after high school to still be in school.”
Cities of Promise receives frequent inquiries from people exploring a place-based scholarship initiative for their own community. And the best way for those communities to begin is to participate in PromiseNet, which will be held this November in Kalamazoo, Mich. Highlighting PromiseNet 2015 will be a 10th anniversary celebration gala of the establishment of the Kalamazoo Promise, which shook up the world of education back in 2005.
Please take a look at the video for PromiseNet 2014 — which was held in New Haven, Conn. — for some flavor of the event. And if you are interested in joining the community, follow this link to PromiseNet 2015.