LANSING – The Lansing Promise Scholarship Program has raised roughly $2.5 million since planning began five years ago. More than $1 million of that came in May.
“A Special Evening with Earvin “Magic” Johnson”, an event hosted by the Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club, brought in $200,000 from a dinner and an additional $800,000 from the basketball star and his friends.
Now, the nonprofit is seeking its first executive director, who would be tasked with expanding the fund-raising base as well as building relationships with business and community partners, said Kellie Dean, chair of the Lansing Promise Zone Authority Board.
“(Hiring an executive director) is an incredibly positive step for something that started with a group of people in a room trying to decide what Lansing Promise could be,” Dean said.
The Lansing Promise first became available in 2012. Since then, close to 500 students have received assistance to attend Lansing Community College or Michigan State University, Dean said.
Students who apply must live in the boundaries of the Lansing School District, attend a high school located within those boundaries for four years (including Lansing Catholic), and apply for federal student aid. The Promise scholarship then backfills the remaining amount necessary to attend LCC or the equivalent amount toward tuition at MSU.
Dean said Lansing Promise staff want to get more students involved, look at offering four-year college funding and expand the program to include vocational and technical schools.
Hiring a full-time director is a first step toward that goal, Dean said. The deadline for executive director candidates is Aug. 28 and compensation is listed at $70,000 per year. The start date is Oct. 1.
Organizers also hope to make the spring fundraiser an annual event. Aside from the significant amount raised, the dinner also helped to cement relationships with area businesses, said interim Director John Zaworski.
Most of that money raised by the organization has gone out to Promise scholars, Dean said. Future funds will go toward refilling and expanding the program’s coffers.
The organization will also be able to tap into a new revenue stream this fall. The promise is set to receive around $250,000 in the form of a tax capture, Dean said. The tax capture takes a portion of local tax revenues and earmarks it to Promise Zone Authorities across the state. That money will continue to come in annually depending on economic growth and tax revenues in each promise zone.
Zaworski said scholarship recipients have shown they are making the most of their opportunities.
More than 95 percent of Promise scholars who started at MSU have continued to attend, Zaworski said. At LCC, the persistence rate is 70 percent, significantly higher than the 52 percent overall student persistence rate, he added. Promise scholars at LCC also have a slightly higher average GPA than other LCC students, he said.
Ninety-three new Promise-sponsored students are slated to start at LCC this fall, bringing the total number of active enrollees to 250, Dean said. Thirty-five scholarship receipts are expected at MSU this fall, bringing the total on-campus to 80.
In addition to encouraging college attendance, Zaworski said the Promise is hoping to give money to students who attend career and technical programs after high school. Pointing to the success of the Insurance Leadership Academy, a partnership between the Ingham ISD and Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, he said it’s clear students can benefit from an increased focus on career-centered training programs.
Since its inception, the scholarship has fulfilled all of its scholarship promises, Dean said. In the future, Dean is hoping the Promise can provide four years of funding for students at MSU or those who choose to transfer from LCC to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
Fund raising is the catalyst that will make that possible, Dean said.
How to apply:
Visit the Lansing Promise Scholarship Program website, LansingPromise.org, to learn more. An online application can also be found online, along with scholarship requirements.
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This post was written by Lansing Promise