PROMISE RESEARCH AT W.E. UPJOHN INSTITUTE

Welcome to the W.E. Upjohn Institute’s interactive database of place-based scholarship (aka “Promise”) programs. These programs are designed to reduce the cost of higher education for a large segment of a community’s young people, thereby transforming not just the lives of these individuals but also the places in which they live and the school districts they attend. (For more on the Upjohn Institute’s definition of Promise programs, click here.)

Since 2006, the Upjohn Institute has played a leading role in advancing understanding of the Promise movement, beginning with rigorous research on the impact of the Kalamazoo Promise. As other place-based scholarship programs have emerged, the Institute has worked to connect researchers across communities, align analytical approaches, and generate collective knowledge about impact. The Institute has also been a leader in educating stakeholders and policymakers regarding the impact of Promise programs.

We hope that this tool will be of use to Promise stakeholders, present and future; the media; policymakers; and members of the public. We welcome feedback on the database; please email us at promisedatabase@upjohn.org with corrections or additions.

PROMISE RESEARCH AT W.E. UPJOHN INSTITUTE

Welcome to the W.E. Upjohn Institute’s interactive database of place-based scholarship (aka “Promise”) programs. These programs are designed to reduce the cost of higher education for a large segment of a community’s young people, thereby transforming not just the lives of these individuals but also the places in which they live and the school districts they attend. (For more on the Upjohn Institute’s definition of Promise programs, click here.)

Since 2006, the Upjohn Institute has played a leading role in advancing understanding of the Promise movement, beginning with rigorous research on the impact of the Kalamazoo Promise. As other place-based scholarship programs have emerged, the Institute has worked to connect researchers across communities, align analytical approaches, and generate collective knowledge about impact. The Institute has also been a leader in educating stakeholders and policymakers regarding the impact of Promise programs.

We hope that this tool will be of use to Promise stakeholders, present and future; the media; policymakers; and members of the public. We welcome feedback on the database; please email us at promisedatabase@upjohn.org with corrections or additions.

ABOUT THE PROMISE DATABASE

Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about Promise Programs. Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Beginning with the announcement of the Kalamazoo Promise in 2005, the Upjohn Institute has been tracking the emergence of Promise programs in other communities. This material has been available on our website for many years in tabular form. As the Promise movement has grown and variations in program structure have emerged, the Institute has sought to categorize and classify Promise programs by their various attributes. This database, which currently includes approximately 90 programs, is a product of our data collection and analysis efforts. By providing data and analytical tools in an interactive, searchable format, we hope to make it easier for stakeholders, policymakers, media, researchers, and other interested individuals to learn about the Promise movement in its many different forms.

In compiling this database, we use a definition we have developed over the years. Promise scholarship programs, a term sometimes used synonymously with place-based scholarship programs, are geographically bounded, usually along the lines of a school district. (Boundaries may be larger, such as a county, or smaller, such as an individual school or neighborhood.) They usually include an enrollment and/or residency requirement for length of attendance within the school district or eligible entity. Because of this enrollment requirement, Promise programs function as early awareness programs. Families and children know upon entering a Promise community that scholarship resources will be available to them upon high school graduation. Finally, Promise programs seek to transform places, as well as individuals, and as such require community support from multiple stakeholders representing diverse sectors. Another way to think about this is that Promise programs both rely upon and catalyze cross-sector alignment.

Scholarship programs that do not fit this definition are not included here. We also do not include in our database statewide merit programs, such as Georgia HOPE, or statewide Promise programs, such as the Tennessee Promise, although the latter bear some similarities to locally based Promise programs. Also excluded are college access programs that do not have a scholarship component. Finally, we do not include programs that serve (or plan to serve) fewer than 10 students annually; this encompasses small scholarship programs offered by private colleges or universities to students in their hometown.

If you know about or work with a program that you believe should be included in our database, please let us know. We can be reached by email at promisedatabase@upjohn.org.

The data have been compiled primarily from information provided on the websites of individual Promise programs. We have also consulted print sources, such as newspaper articles and publications of Promise programs. Before release, we contacted each of the Promise programs covered here, offering program staff an opportunity to update or correct information.

The Upjohn Institute seeks to ensure that this database is comprehensive, accurate, and timely. If you believe that a program should be added to the database or want to update or edit information for an existing program, please let us know at promisedatabase@upjohn.org.

The multiple functions of the database are designed to be accessed intuitively. You can:

  • Generate profiles of individual Promise programs
  • Compare up to three programs at once by viewing their key characteristics side by side
  • Search for programs by certain characteristics, including the year established, the state where they are located, the type of funder, whether or not there are financial need or academic merit requirements, the scope of post-secondary institutions where the scholarship may be used, and two measures we have developed – saturation and intensity (see below)
  • Find out what research has been conducted related to various programs or types of program outcomes
  • Download the entire data set for research purposes.

Multiple fields can be specified to help you target your search, or the entire database can be browsed. Dozens of variables are covered in the full database, including some technical ones that are not available in the interactive browser. A comprehensive list of variables covered and their definitions, as well as sources of data, can be accessed here

The interactive browser version of the database is an open access resource. The entire database may also be downloaded freely. However, before downloading the full database you will be asked to provide us with your name and contact information; you may then use the data in your research, provided you acknowledge the source (see below).

Saturation refers to the proportion of a school district’s students that are likely to be eligible for the scholarship. Several indicators are combined to create an index that is converted to high, medium, and low categories. The specific indicators used include: whether or not there are income, attendance, residency, merit, and/or other requirements; and if there are academic merit requirements (such as a GPA cutoff), defining how restrictive they are. The higher the Saturation indicator, the more likely are detectable impacts in the K-12 system and community.

Intensity and saturation together will determine not only the expected magnitude of impacts but also the extent to which impacts are likely to be felt broadly across different groups of students.

Intensity refers to the size of the incentive created by the scholarship program. Several indicators are combined to create an index that is converted to high, medium, and low categories. The specific indicators used include: the type of scholarship (first v. last dollar), whether the scholarship covers non-tuition expenses, the number of years of scholarship benefits, the number of post-secondary institutions covered by the scholarship, and the dollar value of the annual maximum possible award. The higher the Intensity indicator, the more likely the scholarship is to drive changes in student behavior.

Intensity and saturation together will determine not only the expected magnitude of impacts but also the extent to which impacts are likely to be felt broadly across different groups of students.

We welcome updates and corrections to the database. We plan to update the database regularly and include new features in the future. Please contact us at promisedatabase@upjohn.org with any updates or corrections you would like to submit.

Miller-Adams, Michelle, Brad Hershbein, and Bridget Timmeney. 2017. Promise Programs Database. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Promise: Investing in Community. Available at:   www.upjohn.org/promise/database.

Dr. Michelle Miller-Adams, Research Fellow at the W.E. Upjohn Institute and Professor of Political Science at Grand Valley State University, has been tracking the Promise movement since 2006. She has written two books on the topic, one focusing on the initial impact of the Kalamazoo Promise and the other on the national Promise movement. She works with communities across the nation in designing Promise programs and is a resource for media and policymakers. She is also co-author of the Promise Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.

Dr. Brad Hershbein, Economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, conducts research on the effectiveness of the Kalamazoo Promise. He has analyzed migration patterns around the timing of the introduction of the Kalamazoo Promise. With co-authors at the Institute, he has examined the post-secondary success of students affected by the Kalamazoo Promise, and the program’s cost effectiveness. Ongoing research investigates workforce outcomes.

Bridget Timmeney, Program Administrator at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, conducts research on federal, state, and regional workforce and education programs. She works with communities across the nation interested in replicating Promise programs to assist in identifying the community’s critical need, to assess how program design could address this need, and to forecast cost scenarios of varying designs. She also facilitates community engagement activities critical to Promise programs’ success.

The database could not have been completed without the talents and efforts of Allison McKenna, Jason Preuss, Jeff Martin, Nathan Sotherland, Marie Holler, Megan Davis, Vidhay Reddy, Kriti Singh, and other Upjohn Institute staff and interns. The authors wish to thank Randy Eberts and the Upjohn Institute Board of Trustees for their support for this project.