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Back-To-School Perspective: The Promise

This fall, the City of Rockford is celebrating back to school in a big way. One hundred and fifty Rockford Public School Students will start college with full-tuition scholarships, thanks to Rockford Promise.

As college costs have skyrocketed over the last decade, “Free College” has become a buzzword in the media. Whether you love or hate that idea, Promise programs don’t give anyone a free ride. Students are still responsible for books, room and board, extra program fees, transportation, and living expenses. Some Rockford Promise Scholars also work full time jobs to support their families. Many are first generation college students. Most say they want to ultimately make Rockford their home.

Besides making college affordable for all students, Rockford Promise aims to increase the educational attainment rate of the community, attract families and businesses to the city, and strengthen the public schools. Most Promise programs support students only at community colleges. Rockford Promise also includes Bachelor degrees at Northern Illinois University and Rockford University. Promise Scholars also receive mentors and other supports to help them learn how to navigate the pitfalls of higher education.

There’s a proverb that says “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” Rockford Promise invests in the most precious resource that a community has -- its young people. They are doubling down on workforce development so that they can truly transform Rockford into a city of the future.

Susan Fumo is the Executive Director of School Improvement for Rockford Public Schools and the Board President for Rockford Promise.
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