The Kalamazoo Promise is a scholarship, funded anonymously, that pays for college for any student who attends Kalamazoo Public Schools from kindergarten through high school and graduates.
Jay Valikodath was on hand for Tuesday’s announcement by Kalamazoo Promise and the Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA). A Promise scholar who just graduated from Western Michigan University, he says he had just started high school when the Kalamazoo Promise came to life in 2005 and it changed his life.
“To be honest it was one of the most amazing days of my life when they announced that.” He now is headed to Chicago to start a career as a Junior Equity Analyst, without a single dollar of debt.
It’s a remarkable opportunity that just got even bigger, by adding 15 more colleges for students to choose from. The Kalamazoo Promise will cover the costs at the same level of the average in state tuition costs at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and Arts.
An MCA member institution will then cover any difference between that amount and its own yearly tuition. For Kalamazoo College, President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran estimates that would be about a $26,000 scholarship per student, one of the biggest scholarships ever for the college.
Wilson-Oyelaran says the Promise not only contributes to the students’ success but ensures access. “I think what this does, from my position, is it allows a choice of what kind of institution students thrive. Not all students thrive in large institutions.”
Opportunities are now endless for the some 3,000 eligible students to date, a promise that continues to grow for generations to come, “We’re hoping that this inspires them to work even harder, that it’s a way to galvanize families around college,” Wilson-Oyelaran said.
The colleges now included in the Kalamazoo Promise are Adrian College, Albion College, Alma College, Andrews University, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Hillsdale College, University of Detroit Mercy, Hope College,Kalamazoo College, Madonna University, Marygrove College, Olivet College, Siena Heights University, and Spring Arbor University.