Local businesses invest $400,000 in Muskegon Area Promise

Local businesses invest $400,000 in Muskegon Area Promise
MUSKEGON, MI: This morning, four local business leaders announced their $400,000 collective investment in the Muskegon Area Promise. Hines Corporation, Nichols, ADAC Automotive, and the Alcoa Foundation are the first significant corporate investors in the program designed to deliver free two-year college scholarships to Muskegon Area students earning a 3.5 GPA or higher.

“This is a game-changer for the Muskegon Area,” said Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) Superintendent John Severson. “From the first day of preschool, we will work with our children and their families to make going to college a reality.”

“This is exactly the kind of investment we have dreamed of to get the Promise off the ground,” said Muskegon Area Promise Zone Authority Board Chair and business management consultant Steve Parker. “What these four businesses are doing for the economic development of this area is unprecedented,” added Parker. “We cannot thank them enough.”

“These funds are critical to allowing Muskegon County to capture one-half of the growth in the existing state education tax beginning in 2017,” said Parker. “It propels us forward to a point nearly half way to our goal of $900,000 in private investments.”

The announcement came on the heels of the Michigan Department of Treasury’s approval of a Promise development plan that unfolds with Holton, Muskegon, and Muskegon Heights high schools over the first two years, and extends countywide for 2017 high school graduates. According to the plan, graduates must have earned at least a 3.5 grade point average and lived within district boundaries to qualify for the potential scholarships that would cover tuition, books, and mandatory fees up to $4,050.

Now that funding is in place for the first two years, eligible high school students who graduated in 2015 will be offered the opportunity to put the scholarship to work at either Baker College of Muskegon or Muskegon Community College.

MAISD College Access Specialist Megan Byard, explained that seven of the ten Michigan Promise Zone communities are already providing scholarships that allow students to attend college tuition free. “The success of our friends to the north of us, in Baldwin, is proof that this dream can become a reality in our own community,” said Byard.

“I have personally seen three things happen in communities with a Promise: the population and economic activity grows, students become more serious about high school and their grades improve, and students are more likely to enroll and persist in college,” Severson said.

“The Muskegon Area Promise will not only improve our education base, but also help fill persistently vacant skill-based jobs, and ultimately lead to the opening of new businesses and the expansion of others in the Muskegon area,” said Parker.

“We can’t stop with these four champions. Every individual, family, corporation, foundation, and organization can be part of the promise,” said Parker. “Whether it’s $10 or $10,000, every dollar counts,” Parker added.

For more information or to invest in the Muskegon Area Promise, visit http://www.muskegonareapromise.org.

Superintendent Quotes
Alena Zachery-Ross, Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System Superintendent,
“The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System is very proud to be an active participant in the Muskegon Area Promise. This program provides our students with opportunity, motivation and vision to achieve academic excellence while in high school with the promise that college is a reality for their future.”

Jon A. Felske, Muskegon Public Schools Superintendent,
“The newly established Muskegon Area Promise will provide a doorway to a free college education for the students of Muskegon Public Schools. Thank you in advance to the Greater Muskegon community as we all step up to support our kids as they move toward brighter futures.”

Jason Kennedy, Holton Public Schools Superintendent,
“The Muskegon Area Promise will promote economic growth by investing in the human capital of our workforce, whereby financial barriers to post-secondary opportunities are reduced, training and education are promoted and encouraged, and success and prosperity within our community are achieved.”

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 63 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $615 million. In 2014, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2014, 58 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,000 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 700,000 people and 500 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.alcoafoundation.com.
nichols