#116. Life-Changing Promises

Posted on | The Agurban

Life-Changing Promises

If you read my blog, Boomtown Blog you may recall the “Kalamazoo Promise”. Here is a brief excerpt from that January 26th blog:

“Every once in a while an idea comes up that is so wild, audacious and awe-inspiring that you can’t believe that someone could possibly do it. Kalamazoo, MI came up with such an idea two years ago. They agreed to pay up to 100% of the college tuition and fees for graduates of Kalamazoo’s three public high schools, funding it from local philanthropists.

Kalamazoo was a town down on its luck. It was losing population, unemployment was rising, housing prices were falling and poverty was up. But in the past year, the city has seen an influx of families from over 30 states and housing prices increased by 4% in the past year. School enrollment increased by the largest percentage in the state. The year before the program started 265 students dropped out of Kalamazoo high schools. Last year only 21 did and 23 who had earlier dropped out re-enrolled.”

We have found another “life-changing” promise in El Dorado, AR. Murphy Oil, the 9th-largest refiner in the nation, unveiled their plan to designate $50 million for college scholarships for nearly all high school graduates in El Dorado over the next 20 years. Murphy Oil CEO Claiborne Deming said his company wants to increase the number of students who attend college and attract new businesses to El Dorado, with the scholarships as a selling point. Murphy also hopes the program will help create better jobs for graduating students to come back to.

“We are committed to making El Dorado a great place to live and work, and we created the promise to further invest in El Dorado’s greatest resource, our children,” commented Deming.

Newton, IA announced their own scholarship program in early 2006, The Newton Promise, with the goal to make Newton more attractive to new businesses and families.

The lure of more and more college graduates in the local labor force in coming years is a very powerful incentive to locate a business in Kalamazoo, El Dorado, or Newton. What an amazing gift these communities have received!