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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate:J. Douglas Penn
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Does Understanding the Kalamazoo Promise Impact African American Participation?
Dr. Thomas VanValey, Chair
Dr. Douglas Davidson
Dr. Joseph Kretovics
Date: Monday, July 2, 2012 10:00 p.m. to Noon
2528 Sangren Hall
Since 2006, all of the public school graduates in Kalamazoo Michigan have been entitled to have their tuition and fees paid for to any post-secondary institution in the state. The scholarship program is called the Kalamazoo Promise, and it utilizes scholarships as a means to stimulate region-wide economic vitality. The Kalamazoo public school district reflects many metropolitan centers in the U.S. by having a minority majority, in which African Americans make up the largest single ethnic group. This is the first evaluation of the Kalamazoo Promise that focuses specifically on perspectives from the African American community. Thirty-five interviews were conducted with African American students and 33 were also conducted with parents of African American, Promise-eligible youth.
All of the data was collected and analyzed by a graduate of Kalamazoo Public Schools (Loy Norrix, class of 1988) that also happens to be an African American. The researcher’s own experience with KPS provided additional baseline data essential to assessing impact and change over time. Combined with analysis of relative literature and other analyses, the data revealed that there is cultural change taking place in Kalamazoo. The most significant changes inspired by the Promise appear to concern the concept of motivation. The Kalamazoo Promise facilitates effective change because its approach is systemic. Over time, the Kalamazoo Promise provides concrete motivation to counter the systemic oppression that is unique to the African American experience.