Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Kalamazoo Promise

I was on the phone last night with my friend Rick and he told me about this project called Kalamazoo Promise. I grew up in a suburb of Kalamazoo and my parents still live there. Rick works for the city of Kalamazoo today. Someone very wealthy in the area – and their identity is a complete mystery – has started an endowed fund promising to pay the tuition for each and every student that graduates from Kalamazoo Public Schools to attend any public university or community college in the state. It works on a sliding scale depending on how long you attended. Someone who was in Kalamazoo public schools for the entire K-12 period gets 100% of their tuition paid and it slides down to those who just attended 9-12th grades there getting 65% of their tuition paid.

What an incredible gift to the community. This will not only provide opportunities for thousands and thousands of students to go to college, it will also create boom in that city. Property values are already rising as people move back into the city to take advantage of this opportunity. The money it frees up from parents who would otherwise have had to pay for college can instead stimulate the economy, or be invested elsewhere. I figure the endowment must be in the $1 billion range, at minimum, to cover the yearly outflow.

But there’s a downside to this: would you believe people are actually complaining about it? My friend doesn’t live in the city of Kalamazoo, he lives in an outlying suburb, and he said he’s spoken to many people there who are upset about it because it doesn’t cover their kids. He even spoke to one woman who complained that it discriminates against Christians because it only includes the public schools and not private religious schools. How’s that for ungrateful? The bottom line is that this is an incredible example of someone giving back to the community and giving opportunities to others. It should be applauded by everyone, all the more so because the benefactor remains secret.

Comments

  1. #1 Kele
    November 22, 2005

    Ooh, I’m jealous. I wish someone would do that for St. Paul, MN. =/

  2. #2 Tanooki Joe
    November 22, 2005

    Or a little to the north here in Kentwood. Budget’s getting lean as it is…

    Maybe someone can hypnoize DeVos or something.

  3. #3 spyder
    November 22, 2005

    Well there is going to be a whole lot more poor kids in the next few months in Michigan given the decisions at GM. Hopefully there are more enlightened and enriched tycoons around there who can use the Kalamazoo model as stepping start to greater funding of better futures.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    November 22, 2005

    Tanooki Joe wrote:

    Or a little to the north here in Kentwood. Budget’s getting lean as it is…

    You’re in Kentwood? I’ve spent a lot of time there. One of my best friends grew up there and we competed against each other in debate. I was back there last year for a debate tournament, in fact.

  5. #5 Tanooki Joe
    November 22, 2005

    Not in Kentwood now (I attend Grand Valley) but that’s my hometown (sorta — my house is technically in Grand Rapids, but right on the border.)

  6. #6 Matthew
    November 22, 2005

    People are moving there for a free college education for their children?

  7. #7 J-Dog
    November 22, 2005

    I think it is Derek Jeter. He went to school and grew up in Kzoo, he has the money, and he has a foundation already that helps the underprivleged, the Turn 2 Foundation. Plus, he is my 12 year old son’s favorite baseball player, and I like the way he plays the game.

    Regardless of who the benefactor is however, they should be congratulated. I am not from Michigan, though our family loves going there in the summer, and my hats are off to the sponsor.

    What an outstanding act.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    November 22, 2005

    J-Dog wrote:

    I think it is Derek Jeter. He went to school and grew up in Kzoo, he has the money, and he has a foundation already that helps the underprivleged, the Turn 2 Foundation.

    If it’s Jeter, he’s got a lot of help. I did some math and figured out that the endowment for this thing has to be in the $1 billion range. Jeter’s rich, but he ain’t that rich. But the news reports do say that it’s more than one person, so he may be involved along with some other prominent folks.

  9. #9 Ken Reibel
    December 1, 2005

    I grew up in Kalamazoo and graduated from Loy Norrix High School. While visiting my parents over Thanksgiving, I read some letters to the editor in the Gazette. A woman from one of the suburbs wrote that it’s not right to spend money “on those people” who don’t value education and hard work, and the money should instead go to kids in the suburbs, who presumably do value education and hard work.

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