What can we learn from the Kalamazoo Promise?

The Kalamazoo Promise deserves national attention, as it has received most recently in the Politico article, because it raises a broader issue: can place-based college scholarships significantly boost not only national economies but also local economies? Is the path to local prosperity only through business tax cuts, or can prosperity be attained through selective and well-designed educational investments?"
That is why the Upjohn Institute has been actively researching the effects of the Kalamazoo Promise.  While we don’t yet have a complete picture of the effects of the Promise, the research completed so far suggests that it has wide-ranging impacts.  We know from our research that the Promise has helped boost the enrollment and economic vitality and racial integration of a core city school district (Bartik/Eberts/Huang).  Those who would have lived out-of-state without the Promise account for an appreciable share of the enrollment gains, which suggests positive impacts on the local economy (Hershbein).  The Promise has significantly improved student behavior and has boosted GPAs for African-American students (Bartik/Lachowska).  It has also increased college-going and college choice (Miller-Adams/Timmeney; Andrews et al.).
What we conclude from our research is that Promise-style programs deserve to be considered as part of the policy mix.  To help communities understand the place of educational investments in local economic development initiatives, the Upjohn Institute continues to support regular PromiseNet conferences around the country, to help other local communities assess plausible costs and benefits for Promise-style investments, and maintains a Web hub for research on Promise-style programs.