LANSING – Earvin “Magic” Johnson returned to his hometown Thursday evening with the future of Lansing’s children on his mind.
“I’m so happy to be back raising money and awareness for the Lansing Promise,” Johnson said ahead of the second annual Celebration of the Lansing Promise dinner.
Members of Earth Wind and Fire joined Johnson inside the Lansing Center, where more than 1,200 guests gathered to hear about the success of the district’s scholarship program. The band’s presence was kept secret until the Everett High School graduate introduced them as “the greatest band in history.”
Rather than topping last year’s event, Johnson said he wanted to repeat the successes of the inaugural dinner.
“We did great last year,” Johnson said, adding that he expects this year’s event to raise another $1 million for students to use toward tuition at either Lansing Community College or Michigan State University.
The Lansing Promise is a scholarship program available to students who live within the boundaries of the Lansing School District and graduate from one of the city’s high schools.
“Tonight’s gathering of our community signals to our children they are worth the investment you are making this evening,” said Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul.
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Club hosted the event for the second consecutive year with more than 30 sponsors in attendance.
Andre Smith, a Sexton High School graduate, told the crowd he didn’t want the experience of a big college. It’s why he choose Lansing Community College to study elementary education.
“The two years the scholarship has paid for has helped me financially, making it possible for me to aim for finishing my four-year degree,” Smith said. Several scholarship recipients addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support.
Several speakers, including Lansing Promise Board Chairman Kellie Dean, praised Johnson’s leadership and commitment to his roots.
“Everyone needs a special person to drag people together, and Magic is that person for this community,” MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo said. . He was flanked on stage by MSU players Bryn Forbes and Denzel Valentine, products of the Lansing School District who Izzo called “mini-Magics”.
More than 500 Lansing graduates will benefit from scholarship dollars by the end of the year, Dean said. This will also be the year the promise surpasses $1 million in scholarship funds awarded.
The support we’ve seen from this city is nothing short of remarkable,” said Justin Sheehan, the scholarship program’s executive director. The rallying around this program and Lansing’s youth shows folks care about these kids.”
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This post was written by Lansing Promise