by Timothy J. Bartik, Marta Lachowska
February 20, 2014
The Kalamazoo Promise provides college scholarships to graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS), a midsized urban school district in Michigan that is racially and economically diverse. Anonymous donors promise to pay up to 100 percent of college tuition for any KPS graduate who attends a public college or university in Michigan. As a model for revitalizing an urban school district and its community, the Promise, as it is called, has attracted much attention and many imitators. Given the popularity and cost of the programs, there is a need for research to determine the size of the benefits of Promise-style efforts. Our study finds clear evidence that the Promise reduced student behavior problems although our results on academic performance for all students were not precise enough to draw strong conclusions. For African American students, however, the Promise both improved behavior and had a dramatic positive effect on high school GPAs.