The State’s recent approval of our development plan for the Muskegon Area Promise inches us closer to the reality of awading two-year college scholarships to our high school graduates. The plan outlines how the program would unfold with 3 districts the first two years, and then expand countywide by year three.
I am asking all school, business, and community leaders to show their support for the Promise by attending a special Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s Business for Breakfast on Friday, October 23, 2015. This event will focus exclusively on the benefits of the Promise and the need to raise funds to meet the needs of all of our graduates countywide. It will be held at the Downtown Muskegon Holiday Inn and will begin at 7:00 a.m. (To attend you must register online at www.muskegon.org or call the chamber office at 231-722-3751.)
According to the development plan, high school graduates must have earned at least a 3.5 grade point average and lived within district boundaries to qualify for the potential scholarships that would cover tuition, books, and mandatory fees up to $4,050. If funding is in place for the first two years, Holton, Muskegon, and Muskegon Heights High School students may put the scholarship to work at either Baker College of Muskegon or Muskegon Community College.
While Treasury’s approval of the development plan was the first big step to getting the Promise off the ground, the next step is seeding the Promise with nearly $108,000 in private investments for the first two years. By 2017, another $900,000 is needed to completely fund and sustain the promise on a countywide scope.
If we meet these goals, Muskegon County will be able to capture one-half of the growth in the state’s existing education tax beginning in 2017. With sufficient funding, eligible students at all public, private, and charter schools will qualify for the scholarship in Fall 2017.
While raising this kind of money would be impossible for one organization or one individual, it is entirely possible with many organziations and many individuals. In fact, every person in our community can be part of the Promise with an investment of $10 or $10,000! Every dollar counts.
Our Muskegon Area Promise Chair Steve Parker and I have been meeting with local business leaders to explain that the Muskegon Area Promise will not only improve our education base, but also help fill persistently vacant skill-based jobs, and ultimately lead to the opening of new businesses and the expansion of others in the Muskegon area.
I have personally seen three things happen in communities with a Promise: the population and economic activity grows, students become more serious about high school and their grades improve, and students are more likely to enroll and persist in college. This is a game-changer for our entire area.
We are determined to push the Promise forward for our kids, our parents, and our economy. To succeed, everyone must be part of the Promise. To learn more visit: www.muskegonareapromise.org
How to Invest:
Dr. John Severson
Muskegon Area ISD Superintendent