The Holland/Zeeland Promise began in 2010 as a dream to replicate the Kalamazoo Promise and allow our area’s young people to graduate college or technical school without crushing student debt. Recognizing they did not have the size of donor endowment which the Kalamazoo Promise enjoys, a group of business and community leaders came together to create the Holland/Zeeland Promise.
Promise candidates are nominated by their high school or Careerline Tech Center counselors or staff at Hope College Trio’s Upward Bound Program, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holland, Latin Americans United for Progress. Selection is based on a range of factors. High financial need, the motivation to achieve the goal of a college or technical degree and strong recommendations are priorities. In addition, most Promise recipients are the first in their families to go to college.
What makes our Promise program unique? It’s a last-dollar scholarship. After other grants and scholarships have been applied, we work with the schools to cover as much of the remaining cost of college as possible. And, the Holland/Zeeland Promise is potentially renewable for three additional years, dependent on students remaining in good academic standing and making progress toward their degrees.
The Promise differs too in that it offers a side-by-side approach. The program addresses not only financial needs, but also academic and socio-emotional needs. The latter entails checking in with students monthly. Additionally, the program offers peer mentoring groups: Promise Men and Promise Women.
The Promise’s track record sets it apart. Including 12 new recipients in 2018, the Promise has been able to support 47 students with annual awards ranging from $2,500 to $23,500. The Promise boasts a 93 percent graduation rate!