Almost a century after the Daly Scholarship was first awarded, other place-based scholarships are being established all around the country. The first and most well-known of these modern-day programs, the Kalamazoo Promise, was funded by anonymous donors in 2005 for graduates of Kalamazoo high schools. Since then, hundreds programs have been created, all offering the promise of funding for college.

Given their rapid growth since 2005, these programs may be the fastest growing new type of support for higher education in the country. Here’s a list of promise programs in each state. Check out the map showing the locations of programs. Yes, there is a dot marking Lakeview and the Daly Scholarship.

The programs differ in the amount of funding offered, the academic requirements, and the colleges recipients may attend, but the programs are alike in that the scholarship is only available to those who live in a specific place: a city, a county, or neighborhood. All of these place-based scholarships engender a promise – the expectation that if one lives in the place covered by the scholarship (and meets other requirements), they will receive support to attend college.  As such, they are often called “promise programs.” I’m convinced that the promise matters; if kids know that there is a strong likelihood that they’ll receive funding for college, most will prepare themselves for that possibility.  And, as the hundred-year experience of the Daly Scholarship has shown – it works. 


Consider one of the newest programs, the Neodesha Promise. Last year, retired businessman, Ben Cutler, funded a scholarship program for the graduates of his hometown high school. He and community leaders hope that, in addition to helping local youth, the scholarship with contribute to the economic growth for Neodesha, a small community in southeast Kansas. When Ben Cutler grew up in Neodesha in the 1960s, the population was 3,600. Over the years, as Standard Oil and other employers left, Neodesha’s population fell; it is now about 2,300. (Quite similar to Lakeview as its population peaked in 1960 when it reached 3,260; it is now also about 2,300.)

This summer, the new scholarship was awarded to 33 Neodesha High School graduates. The Neodesha Scholarship funds all college tuition and required fees for up to four years at a four-year university, community college or trade/technical school. It’s an idea that won’t go away — people care about the places they come from, and it’s promise that makes a difference.

Map source:

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