Kalamazoo Promise and Place-based Scholarships

The Upjohn Institute plays a leading role in research and evaluation activities surrounding the Kalamazoo Promise and the national movement to create place-based scholarship programs. Since the announcement of the Kalamazoo Promise in 2005, dozens of communities around the nation have created their own place-based scholarship programs.
  • For an introduction to Promise programs, click here.
  • For a map showing the location of Promise programs, click here.
  • For the Institute’s database of Promise programs, click here.
Promise communities are those that seek to transform themselves by making a long-term investment in education through place-based scholarships. While these programs vary in their structure, they all seek to expand access to and success in higher education, deepen the college-going culture in K-12 systems, and support local community and economic development.

The most recent meeting of PromiseNet took place in New Haven, CT, on November 19-21, 2014. Researchers from the Upjohn Institute participated in several panels; their PowerPoint presentations can be accessed here:
Additional research presentations given at the conference are available here: The Kalamazoo Promise

In 2005, a group of anonymous donors pioneered the nation’s first universal, place-based college scholarship—the Kalamazoo Promise. Thanks to the Promise, students who attend Kalamazoo Public Schools from kindergarten through high school graduation can receive full-tuition scholarships to earn a college degree or certificate at any of Michigan’s public colleges or universities, plus 15 of the state’s private liberal-arts colleges.

The Promise is intended in part to create incentives for current residents to remain in Kalamazoo and to draw new families to the area. Between 2005 and 2013, enrollment in the Kalamazoo Public Schools increased by almost 25 percent. Read more about the Kalamazoo Promise.

The Upjohn Institute plays a leading role in research, evaluation and community mobilization efforts related to the Kalamazoo Promise.
  • Research
    Institute staff members conduct research on the Kalamazoo Promise and related programs, with findings presented in books, papers, and presentations for a variety of audiences.
  • Data collection
    As the central repository of data covering KPS and comparison districts, the housing market, and the regional economy, the Institute collaborates with other stakeholders to develop and disseminate useful measures of the program’s impact.
  • Community mobilization
    The Institute plays a key role in convening community stakeholders around the linked issues of education and economic development.
Place-based Scholarship Programs

Upjohn researchers have used the knowledge gained from Kalamazoo’s experience to help more than 20 communities determine the feasibility and costs of creating similar Promise programs.
  • Consulting
    The Institute assists other organizations and communities interested in replicating elements of the Kalamazoo Promise, carrying out contracted studies that cover feasibility, impact, and cost.
Since 2008, the Upjohn Institute has been involved in the planning of PromiseNet, a networking and learning opportunity that brings together Promise community stakeholders to share best practices around designing, implementing, and sustaining place-based scholarship programs. Here are links to material from some of the previous meetings of PromiseNet
The Upjohn Institute has also been instrumental in convening researchers who study place-based scholarship programs. With a grant from the Lumina Foundation in 2014, the institute has helped launch the Promise Research Consortium. More information is available here.

Selected Bibliography