Junior Loses the Kalamazoo Promise

By Dylann Meek

Dylan Meek
Junior Nakia Brown works on her John Collins writing, a district wide KPS writing assignment. Even though she works on a KPS assignment, she doesn’t receive the Promise. Photo Credit, Dylann Meek

“When me and my mother went to the office to change the address, that’s when the secretary told me I was out of district and would not get the [Kalamazoo] Promise,” said junior Nakia Brown.

At the beginning of her junior year, Nakia Brown lost the Kalamazoo Promise after moving out of the Kalamazoo Public Schools district (KPS). Brown has been attending KPS for three years, and her new house being only about ten minutes away, continues to go to Loy Norrix High School.

The Kalamazoo Promise is a college scholarship for graduates of KPS that live in  the district. It can pay up to 100 percent of your tuition. According to CollegeCalc, “The average annual in-state college tuition in Michigan was $14,160 for the 2017-2018 academic year.” Losing such a generous scholarship has dealt a strong blow to Brown and her family.

After Brown’s parents filed for a divorce, bills became hard to pay and Nakia’s family had to leave her home immediately. Her family attempted to find a new house but most of them were either too expensive or had a waiting list of up to five years.

“When we found a place that was within a budget that my mom could handle on her own, we jumped at the opportunity. But,…, they took my Promise away,” said Brown.

Brown joined KPS in 8th grade. That means that she would have gotten 70 percent of her college tuition paid for. Brown was planning to use the Promise at Western Michigan University. According to CollegeCalc, the tuition at WMU is $11,020. She would have saved about $3,306 and only had to spend roughly $7,714.

Brown’s family and friends have encouraged her to email or phone the office of the Kalamazoo Promise to try to appeal to get the Promise back but she believes that it would be too easy to for her case to be dismissed without a face to face meeting. While there is no official appeal process, the Kalamazoo Promise website recommends contacting the Executive Director, Bob Jorth, to begin an appeal.

Brown and her family have looked for grants and scholarships but that has taken up a lot of her time and energy and has lead to many sleepless nights.

Brown no longer enjoys school like she used to and is now in the process of graduating early. She feels unwanted and unappreciated. She wants the people that control the Promise to look at how good her grades are in hopes that she will get the  Promise back.

Thanks to her community, Brown is feeling hopeful, “I do think, after having some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting rally around me and give me strength, that I will try and meet face to face with the top people surrounding the Promise so that I can plead to have my Promise back. I deserve it.”

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