August 10, 2016
For Immediate Release
Robert N. Habicht
Michigan Gateway Community Foundation
Reveals Buchanan Promise Scholarship Program
BUCHANAN – Michigan Gateway Community Foundation is pleased to announce a new innovative education program for Buchanan, called the Buchanan Promise. The Promise is a place based scholarship program tied to residency within a defined geographic area. Unlike typical scholarships that include merit based, need, or achievement criteria for eligibility, the Buchanan Promise sole eligibility measurement is residence within the Buchanan Community School District. Scholarship amounts are determined by the length of that residency. Beginning with the Class of 2017, every Buchanan High School graduate who has been enrolled in and resided in the district since kindergarten or 1st grade receives a scholarship of $10,000 spread over four years to assist with tuition and fees at an accredited postsecondary institution. Graduates who have attended a BCS school and lived in the district for four years receive a scholarship equal to 70 percent of the grant, with a sliding scale for those in between.
As a place based scholarship program, The Buchanan Promise is predicated on the idea that all students should be eligible for a scholarship, receiving tuition assistance to attend any postsecondary institution to which they can gain admission, including short-term career and technical programs offered by community colleges, as well as apprenticeship programs and a vocational training schools. Scholarships are awarded on a first dollar basis, meaning that the scholarship amount is granted before a student’s other grant aid. Students eligible for additional aid, usually in the form of federal Pell Grants, can use their non-Promise aid to pay for room and board or other college costs. Recipients have six years after high school graduation in which to use their scholarship funding, three years for programs whose duration is two years in length. There are almost no strings attached: students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in their college courses and make regular progress toward a degree in order to continue receiving the scholarship.
Perhaps the most extraordinary difference between traditional scholarships and Promise programs is the latter’s emphasis on community transformation. The Buchanan Promise includes goals that encompass nonacademic, or community-level effects. These expectations rest on what makes a community more desirable and on the relationship between educational levels and a community’s economic health. The Buchanan Promise will make it possible for a large proportion of the community’s youth to obtain new skills and increase the likelihood of job ready, educated workers being attracted to a community. The key to driving positive community effects in addition to the obvious advantage for Buchanan Community Schools is to design and pursue a deliberate plan for community alignment, reaching out to the greater community for widespread support and understanding of the positive potential, and marshalling local resources to benefit the greater community as a whole.
MGCF serves south Berrien and Cass counties. The Foundation was established with gifts from many citizens in amounts ranging from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only the income generated by the investment of these gifts is used in grant making. Thus, a gift to the community funds, such as those from Niles, Buchanan, and Cass County, serve these communities in perpetuity. The Foundation manages over 100 separate endowment funds, with combined assets of more than $8.5 million. In 2016, over $350,000 in grants were made from these funds to provide for the charitable needs of the South Berrien and Cass County communities.
For information on establishing an endowment fund, or contributing to an existing fund, contact Robert N. Habicht at Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, 111 Days Avenue, Buchanan, MI 49107 or call 269-695-3521.