KALAMAZOO, Mich– Jasmine Grandville is getting ready to graduate from Western Michigan University and says she wouldn’t be where she is today, without the Kalamazoo Promise program.
“I don’t want to work at McDonald’s for the rest of my life,” Grandville said.
Jasmine is working on getting her degree in criminal justice, and has been a part of the program for the last 4 years. She has two younger sisters, and said her parents couldn’t afford to put her through college. She was hoping for a scholarship for basketball, and when that didn’t happen, she almost lost hope.
“I think my whole high school career it’s going to be basketball or the streets and that’s not what I wanted,” Grandville said.
It’s called the Kalamazoo Promise. An anonymous donor came forward to award Kalamazoo Public School graduates free tuition if they attended school in Kalamazoo from kindergarten to 12th grade, or they could get 65% of their tuition paid in they attend 9th-12th grade. They also have to be Kalamazoo residence.
“It’s pretty clear that the creators had more in mind that just helping the students go on to college, they were really trying to transform this community,” Michelle Miller-Adams, Researcher at W.E. Upjohn Institute said.
But, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s going to work. That’s why the people at the W.E. Upjohn institute in Kalamazoo decided to take a look at how it’s impacting the community. During the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo meeting Monday, Michelle Miller-Adams talked about their research.
“There has been a lot of positive news coming out the Kalamazoo Public School District regarding MEAP scores, graduation rates and enrollment numbers and I’m not here to talk about that,” Miller-Adams said.
Michelle says they found its improving students behavior, they’re attempting more credit hours in college and it’s also increased the average student’s GPA. She also talked about how other school districts across the country and taking notice of the program, and creating their own.
The program is funded through anonymous donors. Jasmine says she couldn’t me more thankful for this opportunity.
“Now that they have this program, there is no stopping us. It’s all about education. My mom use to preach that, it use to annoy me, but now I can seriously see the difference in my mom pays and dads pay, from a college degree and no college degree. The difference in their lives,” Grandville said.