Flint Scholarship Plan Gets $2M from Pistons Owner, Utility - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Flint Scholarship Plan Gets $2M from Pistons Owner, Utility

by David Eggert, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. — Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and a major Michigan utility’s foundation each committed $1 million Wednesday to covering college tuition for Flint high school graduates in the wake of the city’s water crisis.

The $2 million in combined pledges for a fledgling “Flint Promise” program are the first to be publicly announced since work began more than a year ago. It is not clear how much more has been promised privately. A top aide to Gov. Rick Snyder said last year that the administration, which has been blamed for the emergency, was seeking to raise $5 million.

Gores, the founder of Los Angeles-based Platinum Equity and a Flint native who previously pledged $10 million to address needs in his hometown, said in a statement: “Every student who works hard deserves a chance to earn a college degree. We want to give those kids and their families a reason to dream and provide them the resources to make those dreams come true.”

Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe called the foundation’s grant a “down payment on a bright future” for Flint, an economically struggling city of nearly 100,000 residents who used a lead-contaminated water supply for 1 ½ years.

Local foundations, school districts, colleges and business groups are still determining details such as which high schools’ graduates will be eligible and which colleges will initially participate. Those plans are expected to be announced in coming weeks.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but this commitment from the Gores family and the Consumers Energy Foundation ensures that Flint students will have an opportunity many didn’t think possible,” said Community Foundation of Greater Flint President and CEO Isaiah Oliver.

Obstacles still remain.

Advocates so far have been unable to persuade the Republican-led Legislature to make Flint the state’s 11th “Promise Zone.” The program – inspired by the anonymously funded Kalamazoo Promise – allows communities that secure enough private funding to also use state tax revenue to pay students’ college tuition. It is limited to 10 high-poverty areas currently.

The programs vary but at a minimum must cover tuition and fees to obtain at least an associate’s degree from a community college. Some also cover the cost of a bachelor’s degree. The initiatives typically require low-income students to first apply for need-based federal Pell Grants or state scholarships.

The Flint legislation overwhelmingly cleared the Senate twice in the last 10 months but has languished in the GOP-controlled House.

“After everything these kids have been through with the water crisis, the least they should have to worry about is finding a way to pay for the next step in their education,” said Democratic Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint, the bill sponsor who called the $2 million in commitments “absolutely incredible news.”

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Mentoring Emphasized at TIAA Institute Women’s Leadership Forum The importance of making an impact on higher education and creating pipelines for diverse talent were salient topics at the TIAA Institute Women’s Leadership Forum held on Thursday in New York City. Women of color will often face obstacles at inst...
Who Are These Diversity Officers? In 2011, I was arrested for civil disobedience in front of the U.S. Senate, fighting for immigrant rights. While I was being arrested, children of undocumented parents visited senators with heart-shaped cookies asking them to take action on keeping f...
Report Highlights Why Minority Adults in California Leave College Before Earning Degree Four million, or 5 percent of adults living in California aged 25-64 have left the state’s colleges and universities due to financial barriers, personal obligations and institutional roadblocks according to a new report. The report titled “Back to...
CDOs Encouraged to Forge Relationships with CFOs The importance of collaborative partnerships across the institution, especially between chief diversity officers (CDOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs), was among the topics of conversation during a recent two-day, equity and inclusion retreat fo...
Semantic Tags: