A city where all the kids are promised free college

We’re talking about The Kalamazoo Promise this morning. Every high school graduate from Kalamazoo, Mich. who gets into a state school gets their tuition paid.

Free college. A great deal for the kids who’ll graduate loan-free. But what we want to discuss is whether this is a good deal for Kalamazoo’s future. Maybe families who would have been tempted to move out of the city of 75,000 will stay put. Maybe kids who graduate will decide to move back to the city that did so much for them.

Is this a way for small cities and towns to compete with the bright lights of the big city?

kalamazoo.jpg (Graduates listen to natioinal anthem June 7, 2010 during commencement ceremonies for Kalamazoo Central High School at Western Michigan University arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Teresa


    Warroad, MN schools offers this type of program too. You have to graduate from the high school with a B average or better I think. But the Marvin Family will pay for 4 years of post-secondary education!

    Take care,


  • Stephanie

    Here’s more information about the The William S. and Margaret W. Marvin Warroad Scholarship Program for Warroad High School seniors. It does not go to every graduate like the Kalamazoo Promise but looks to be a generous scholarship.

  • Barb Rothmeier, Edina, MN

    I was raised in Kalamazoo, with my father having a remarkable career at Upjohn, in a time when things were much different. The impact of Pfizer taking over Upjohn, with the loss of thousands of jobs, many requiring a high level of education was a huge part of Kalamazoo’s economic downturn. I am proud that the local money that remains there has stepped up to the plate (with or without Derek Jeter) to provide this opportunity for many students, and for the positive culture of hope for the city.

    Never underestimate the negative results of a takeover of a great local company,, and also what private philanthropy can accomplish.

  • Anna Loney

    I left Pittsburgh, PA with my family two years ago for a new life in MN. We left its public school system and the recently established “Pittsburgh Promise” without a thought of missing out on money for college.

    The “promise” there came with sales pitches, and stern warnings to my then Kindergartener and 3rd grader that everyone needed to really buckle down or their collegiate monies might otherwise be in jeopardy. Imagine explaining to little kids, already plagued by test anxiety, that they didn’t really need to be overwhelmed by collegiate pressure. . .

    Also, as its own, new “non-profit cause in search of massive funding”, I read alot of stories about the “promise” trying to find money and other established Pittsburgh causes going wanting. Remember, the pool is only so big.

    I’d caution MN towns and cities to look this “gift horse” in the mouth. And I feel, along with many, philanthropic money is far better spent in improving pre-K education.