Does Kalamazoo’s “Promise” Hold Promise for Baltimore?

November 2008 / Abell Reports / Community Development, Education

The City of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is pioneering a provocative new idea for reversing trends in college enrollment and retention, and economic development: free college tuition.

Three years ago, prompted by declines in high school graduation rates and lagging economic development, the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, launched a new type of college scholarship known as the Promise. Its mission was to reverse both trends by offering guaranteed college tuition for all residents graduating from the city’s public schools.

Half a dozen other cities, both small (El Dorado, Arkansas) and large (Denver and Pittsburgh), are now pursuing similar plans, and another 50 or so have expressed interest.

This report examines the history of the Promise; its implementation and achievements to date; and for jurisdictions with shared concerns, the lessons learned. Have the high hopes for educational and civic progress been realized?

Closer to home, the report poses the question: Does Kalamazoo’s Promise hold promise for Baltimore?