Policy Recommendations for Michigan Promise Zones

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


Policy Recommendations for Michigan Promise Zones December 2015 This policy research paper discusses the Kalamazoo Promise Program, a tuition-free based program founded for Kalamazoo, Michigan Public School students and the ways in which the Michigan Promise Zone Authority (partially modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise) could benefit from some of the policies and procedures the Kalamazoo Promise has implemented. The Kalamazoo Promise was the first in the nation to develop an economic stability project that pledged to fund higher education aspirations of the majority of the high school graduates in Kalamazoo, MI. There is a sliding scale of eligibility directly related to how long the students lived and attended public schools in the Kalamazoo area. The four foundational principles for the program are place-based, universality, flexibility and generosity. Research on the program shows an increase in public high school admittance, confidence in sending test scores, cross-cultural competence, and an increase in post-secondary enrollment within six months of students graduating from high school. The Michigan Promise Zone Authority was the first program in the nation to implement a statewide tax revenue mechanism to fund post-secondary education for the residents of Michigan. The ten Michigan Promise Zones were created for three reasons: as an approach to community-based extensive scholarship programs, to raise higher education achievement levels, and promote positive economic development. The eligibility requirements range from attendance (from two to eight years attending high school in a district), to merit based (a minimum high school grade point average), to the maximum amount funded ($1000-$8000), and what postsecondary institutions students can attend (local community or any Michigan college/university). In October 2015, Senator Hansen (R) introduced an amendment to the Michigan Promise Zone Act. Some of the amendments included: the annual reporting of student performance and the number of individuals that received assistance and completed their post- secondary graduation requirements. After evaluating the Kalamazoo Promise and the Michigan Promise Zone Authority programs, the four recommendations the author is proposing based on the policy advocacy research are: mandatory college prep courses before high school graduation, eliminating merit eligibility requirements, the publication of a detailed Development Plan for each zone, and the creation and implementation of an effective communication and media plan for the Michigan Promise Zone Authority.


Higher Education

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