Legislation clears House, Senate, heads to governor’s desk

FLINT, Mich. — Legislation recently passed the House and Senate to make Flint a Promise Zone, and today Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) gathered with community leaders to announce the latest information about the scholarship program.

Senate Bill 98, sponsored by Sen. Ananich, expands the number of Promise Zones in Michigan from 10 to 15, which will include Flint.

“I am proud to be from a city that understands our young people are worth investing in,” Sen. Ananich said. “Today, we are keeping our promise and making sure that a quality college education is in reach for every child in our community.”

The Promise Zone program has been an effective tool in communities around the state for improving student performance and increasing college attendance rates. Without having to worry about the cost of tuition, high school students in Promise Zones are incentivized to maintain good grades and earn their diploma.

“I can’t think of a more deserving group of students to receive these scholarships,” said Flint Community Schools Board President Harold Woodson. “We want all students in Flint to know that hard work and perseverance pay off, and that their goals can be achieved with a quality education.”

Students with the place-based scholarship can use the funds for a 2- or 4-year degree program, as well as certain trades programs.

“At Mott Community College we know that many young people automatically rule out college because they cannot afford it, but the Flint Promise will allow high school students to look forward with hope. It will afford them an opportunity to pursue an education that will prepare them for a successful future,” said MCC President Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea.

“Since its inception, the University of Michigan-Flint has been a staunch proponent of this legislative proposal that will make a significant positive impact on the lives of Flint youth,” said University of Michigan-Flint Chancellor Susan E. Borrego. “As an active partner in its development we are delighted to see it come to fruition and eager to provide a quality Michigan education to those who it benefits.”

Promise Zones across the nation have been praised for boosting their local economies. Given the number of college and university programs available in Flint, young people will be ready and able to enter the workforce with the necessary skills to do the job, and employers will have a larger talent pool from which to draw.

“The whole community benefits from an educated workforce,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “As Flint’s economy continues to grow, we will need more and more educated applicants. And the Flint Promise will help our region achieve this.”

The Promise scholarships fund is mainly comprised of contributions from community donors — including $2 million in donations from the Consumers Energy Foundation and Tom Gores — and is currently managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

Sen. Ananich believes these significant donations proved to legislators in Lansing that the program would be feasible, and helped him ultimately garner bipartisan support for the bill.

“The Flint Promise has shown how generous our community can be, and how dedicated we are to seeing young people succeed,” said Isaiah Oliver, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “We have confidence that we can continue to build this program over the long haul, thanks to the generosity of people who want to see students reach their full potential.”

The bill has been sent to the governor’s desk and is expected to be signed in the coming days.

“This can prove to be a pivotal chapter for education in our community,” said state Representative Sheldon Neeley (D–Flint). “Opportunities like this one move us to the success column for decades to come.”

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