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Scholarships offered to nearly all Kalamazoo grads
The Associated Press
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — In one of the biggest such programs in the U.S., an anonymous group of benefactors is offering college scholarships for at least the next 13 years to nearly all Kalamazoo high-school graduates.
The scholarships will be good at any of Michigan's public universities or community colleges, and the amounts will depend on how long the student has been in the Kalamazoo school system. Those who enrolled in kindergarten would get a free ride.
"This is truly a way for dreams to come true," Superintendent Janice Brown said Friday.
Civic leaders were delighted by the program, The Kalamazoo Promise, and said it could transform this largely middle-class city of 77,000 by attracting businesses and drawing homebuyers with children.
Starting with the class of 2006, the four-year scholarships will be available to all students who entered the school system in the ninth grade or earlier. The scholarships will cover between 65 and 100 percent of tuition and fees.
For students at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, such a program would be worth more than $7,000 this school year.
Brown would not give details on the donors or disclose how much money they put up.
The program will run for at least 13 years but may continue well after that, said district spokesman Alex Lee.
"What a tremendous act of generosity on the part of the donors who made this possible and what a tremendous opportunity for all these children in Kalamazoo public schools who can now go to college and chase their dreams," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said.
Floyd Branson, 39, who has lived in Kalamazoo for 15 years, said he and his wife have a 4-year-old daughter who will start kindergarten next fall. "It's going to be a great help," said Branson, who runs a barbecue stand in town.
About 500 students graduated in 2005 from high school, and about 85 percent of them applied to college, Brown said.
The biggest area employers are the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Western Michigan. The region is trying to attract companies to its new high-tech business park as it shifts away from its past as a paper-manufacturing center.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company