What makes the Holland/Zeeland Promise different from other scholarships?

It’s renewable and it’s a “last dollar” scholarship for tuition, room and board and books – for as long as it reasonably takes to graduate.

Most scholarships are one time scholarships and many for less than $1000. Given the cost of continuing education today, a one time scholarship does not ensure that a financially challenged student will graduate without incurring crushing debt. The HZ Promise differs in that is promises to bridge the gap between one time scholarships and grants and the full cost of college, including increases.

What else makes us different? 

We promise to walk “Side-by-Side” with our recipients for as long as it takes to see them through to graduation.

It was a  New York Times article (For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall) that underscored what we were also learning. Many at risk and financially challenged students, even if they enter college, do not graduate because they lack the support systems that other advantaged students have. Their parents are not able to help financially, advise them on how to fill out necessary grant and aid applications or guide them as they choose courses and majors that match their skills.


Bob DeNooyer speaks to a gathering of donors in October of 2013 considering renewing their pledges for four more years.  He speaks of the daunting statistics facing first generation and financially challenged students as they reach for the dream of a college education.

That’s why HZ Promise Coordinators began keeping in touch with all the Promise students on a regular basis. We check in to see how they are handling courses and life at school and help them access mentoring or guidance as needed.  And it means we require that Promise Students stay in touch with their academic advisers at least once each semester, consulting with them on course selection, their Majors or the need for summer classes.
Each summer Director of Scholarships Stacy Timmerman and a mentor meet with all new recipients as well as all continuing students to be sure they are on track for graduation and to hear how they feel their year went and to check if there are other ways they might need our help.
When meeting with those entering their junior year we talk of resumes and put them in contact with mentors who can guide them toward that first job interview.  And we invite them to special offerings like the one Herman Miller Corporation offered to our Promise students, giving them an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills and have their resumes critiqued.
We do this to help them access the available support as well as to make sure that the monies donated by our Promise Partners are well utilized and the goals of their donations realized.  And we are determined to help our Holland Zeeland Promise Students beat the statistics mentioned in the video above.


A new way to walk “side-by-side” – Promise Women and Promise Men! 

Promise Student Women – Cynthia, Yessica, Diana, Nhi, Alison front row: Laura, Lily, Yadah, Diana, Jessica

Promise Student Women – Cynthia, Yessica, Diana, Nhi, Alison front row: Laura, Lily, Yadah, Diana, Jessica

In 2014 we began what we call a Promise Women Gathering.  We meet for dinner and conversation facilitated by two Promise Mentor Volunteers – Deborah Sterken and Colette Volkema DeNooyer and Director of Scholarships, Stacy Timmerman.  We did so because recent research at the University of Texas, Austin, has shown mutual peer mentoring can dramatically  improve graduation rates.

At our Gathering, our upper class women give concrete advice to the new women recipients – both how to succeed academically and how to manage social life and emotional experiences. And returning students who gather benefit from hearing the way others handled the ongoing and inevitable challenges that arise  – whether academic or social/emotional.

Promise Student Men – Teo, Dave, Edgar, Rogelio, Michael

We also have a separate Promise Men’s Gathering. These gatherings so far have been gender specific because it allows us to talk about issues that pertain more personally to men and women respectively and to cover sensitive topics with more openness and ease.

Promise Selection Committee members Tim Hemingway, Bob Sterken and Bob DeNooyer, facilitate a similar conversation, sharing stories that encourage and offer strategies for success in school and life.

Come join us!  Help the HZ Promise keep growing!