About the Promise
At the turn of the 20th century, parents saw that high school graduates were getting better jobs, so they started a grassroots movement to persuade others to make public education free through 12th grade. Their dream became a reality.
Now – in the 21st century – grass root initiatives like the Kalamazoo Promise and other Promise scholarship programs recognize that a college degree or technical degree beyond high school is essential for enabling students to find good jobs essential for a vibrant economy.
That’s why in 2010, inspired by the Kalamazoo Promise, a group of community members and business leaders came together to create the Holland/Zeeland Promise. Their dream, like the one in Kalamazoo and a growing number of communities across the country, is to make further education as debt free as possible for students who would otherwise face years of crushing debt.
What makes the HZ Promise Scholarship unique? It’s a “last dollar” scholarship which means that after other grants and scholarships we cover whatever remains to ensure that tuition, books, room and board are fully covered, dependent only on students completing their classes with good grades.
And unlike many other scholarship, the HZ Promise Scholarship is renewable for at least 4 years because we “promise” to see our students all the way through to graduation and their first job.
We differ too in that we offer a “side-by-side” approach. We promise our recipients that we will address not only their financial needs, but also their academic needs (putting them in touch with advisers and mentors available at the Michigan institution of their choice) and their socio-emotional needs. This latter entails checking in with our students monthly to see how they are handling courses and life at school, helping them access counseling or tutoring or other resources as needed. And offering peer-mentoring groups: Promise Women and Promise Men.
Since it began in 2010 the HZ Promise has been able to provide support to 35 students, including 11 of whom have now graduated. Scholarships have ranged from $2,500 to over $16,000 according to a student’s need.
All funds donated annually are dispersed, keeping in reserve only the amount necessary to cover unexpected increases or summer school. And this year – thanks to our growing list of donors as well as grants from local companies – almost $220,000 has been disbursed.
Scholarship applicants are encouraged to participate in and be nominated by their guidance counselors or staff at the following:
Selection is based on a range of factors:
- Financial need
- Strong recommendations of staff from the above organizations or counselors based on the student’s involvement
- Recommendation of high school guidance counselors
- Students’ demonstration of commitment and motivation to achieve the goal of a college or technical degree
- Graduation from the greater Holland/Zeeland area high schools or a current college student who graduated from a greater Holland/Zeeland area high school
As indicated above scholarships are renewable – which means that students must fulfill the requirements of the college they are attending, completing classes and maintaining good grade averages as well as good conduct.
Scholarships are not renewed if these requirements are not met. Scholarship monies do not cover transportation or automobile expenses. Students are encouraged to have summer jobs or work/study jobs to cover personal needs and expenses.
The Director of Scholarships at Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland- currently Stacy Timmerman – is the person responsible for monitoring the students grades and class registration, to see that they fulfill their part of the Promise as well as connecting them with mentoring and counseling services as necessary. You can reach her at the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland for more information or contact Stacy Timmerman by email at: email@example.com
The HZ Promise is keeping the dream alive. A dream that one day, there will be enough donors– both personal and corporate – that all our Holland/Zeeland area students will be able to attend college or technical school without years of crushing student debt. It’s a wise investment for all our futures!