It's been 10 years since The Kalamazoo Promise began.

Since that time, the anonymous donors who fund The Kalamazoo Promise have provided 4,000 scholarships — of up to full-tuition scholarships — for Kalamazoo Public School (KPS) graduates to any community college or, public university in Michigan.

Photo: Dave Benson/Townsquare Media

Planning is underway for events and programs that celebrate The Kalamazoo Promise and commitment to ensure even more young people take full advantage of the offer.

The year-long celebration will focus on the theme “The Promise We Keep.”

To mark the 10-year anniversary of The Kalamazoo Promise announcement, a series of community wide and national events also are planned including a formal November anniversary celebration.


  • A series of community conversations throughout the year, beginning in March, to identify and overcome college barriers for The Kalamazoo Promise-eligible young people who have not yet tapped that opportunity;
  • An August community wide celebration in downtown Kalamazoo;
  • A 2015 PromiseNet conference in Kalamazoo in November to gather representatives from some 50 communities across the nation that have adopted free college tuition strategies to transform their communities;
  • A formal 10th Anniversary Celebration in mid-November marking 10 years since the evening school board meeting at which The Kalamazoo Promise was announced; and
  • Continuation of the celebration into 2016 with activities such as an April Educator Celebration to mark the importance of Kalamazoo Public Schools educators’ work in preparing The Kalamazoo Promise students for college.
  • Celebratory moments will include spring 2016 high school commencement ceremonies in Kalamazoo that will fill the college pipeline with another 500-plus students who will be eligible to use The Kalamazoo Promise to earn their college degrees.
  • Also marking the success of The Kalamazoo Promise will be college and university commencement ceremonies around the state in which scholarship recipients will receive the degrees they've earned.

Since it was announced, The Kalamazoo Promise has paid out more than $60 million in scholarship awards, with the first large group of students earning four-year degrees in 2010. Promise students have earned nearly 1,000 degrees and post-secondary credentials.

Under terms of The Kalamazoo Promise, students who spend their K-12 years attending, and graduating from, Kalamazoo Public Schools are eligible for scholarships that cover 100 percent of tuition and fees at the Michigan public college or university of their choice. The covered amount at 15 private colleges is based on the average tuition and fees for the College of Literature, Science and Arts at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Currently, Promise scholarships can be used at Michigan's 15 public universities and 28 community colleges. The program covers up to 130 credits or a bachelor's degree, whichever comes first.

Participating colleges and universities include Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technical University, Oakland University, Saginaw Valley State University, University of Michigan, University of Michigan Dearborn, University of Michigan Flint, Wayne State University. Additionally, it's offering the program for these Michigan community colleges.

Beginning with the class of 2015, it also will cover tuition at 15 private colleges in Michigan, including Kalamazoo College, Adrian, Albion, Alma, Andrews, Aquinas, Calvin, Hope, Hillsdale, Madonna, Marygrove, Olivet, Siena Heights, Spring Arbor and University of Detroit Mercy.