Contact: Ann Hatch214-378-1819;
For immediate release — May 5, 2018
(DALLAS) — From the cheers at a pep rally to the cheers of students who are the first Promise classmates this coming fall, the national launch of the Dallas County Promise program put a spotlight on a huge opportunity for high school students to complete college and start new careers.
The Dallas County Promise is a last-dollar, full-tuition scholarship for an associate degree provided by the Dallas County Community College District Foundation to every high school student, regardless of family income or grade point average, in the county. DCCCD’s effort is being matched with tuition-free scholarships provided by the University of North Texas at Dallas, plus other partner public and private universities for students’ junior and senior years.
Although more than 200 Promise programs exist across the country, May said the Dallas County Promise program is unique in this way: “Our Promise is funded by the Dallas County Community College District Foundation. However, the foundation serves not only as a financial resource but also as the coordinating force that brings together all education, community and business groups who comprise that Promise network.”
He added, “Our bottom line is student success: graduating from high school; going to college; following a pathway to earn a credential that makes students employable; and starting careers that support our economy, families and communities.”
The kick-off event, held at Adamson High School on May 3, marked the growth of seeds that were planted with the district’s Rising Star program. Those seeds have grown to become a network that has brought together DCCCD, other colleges and universities in the area, multiple school districts, businesses, and education and community organizations that all have one common goal: student access, success and college completion.
The celebration featured a visit from Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady and community college proponent, who talked to the audience of high school seniors about where they have been and where they are going.
Biden told them: “You’ve done so much to stand with your classmates today. You’ve studied. You’ve planned. You’ve juggled homework and sports and clubs and family obligations and I’m sure many of you, like I did, I had a job in high school. You’ve worried at times, but hey, you did it!”
In other remarks, Biden addressed the need for Promise programs. ““I’ve seen it time and time again in my own classroom: the chance to go to college is life-changing for students and their families. The Dallas County Promise is giving local students the chance to attend school, complete their education, expand their career choices, and build lives that are more financially secure. That’s not just good for them — it strengthens the Dallas workforce and helps build a more prosperous economy for all of North Texas.”
Dr. Martha Kanter, former under-secretary for the U.S. Department of Education and current executive director for the national College Promise Campaign, agreed. “This dynamic collaboration in one of the nation’s largest community college districts will inspire other communities and states to follow their lead,” she said. “A high school education is no longer enough for a good job and a decent quality of life.”
The Dallas County Promise program was announced in fall 2017 for high school seniors in 31 Dallas Independent School District early college high schools partnered with DCCCD colleges as well as businesses that signed on to support P-Tech schools. (Twelve additional early college high schools will join the Promise network in fall 2018.)
Promise students signed a pledge to complete college; filled out their FASFA (or TASFA) form; applied to a college; and have enrolled for fall 2018. Among those schools, 9,300 students were eligible, and approximately 4,000 completed all steps and will be members of the first Promise class.
Initially, DCCCD, Dallas ISD and UNT Dallas became education partners to increase college access through the Dallas County Promise. Commit has been a steadfast partner, in addition to the DCCCD Foundation.
Most students in Dallas ISD will participate in the Promise by enrolling at one of DCCCD’s seven colleges. They can earn an associate degree and enter the workforce, or they can transfer to several area universities, including UNT Dallas and Southern Methodist University, where Promise scholarships provided by those institutions will take them further along the pathway to a bachelor’s degree.
After a morning filled with a pep rally, Decision Day announcements, Dallas County Promise students on stage and two panels for educators, the launch reminded everyone of the need to help students succeed and complete college through a network of engaged partners.
In an interview with CBS DFW after the launch, May said, “Many people just think it’s too good to be true, which can be a challenge. We’re removing all catches. We’re taking the barriers out of the way. We’re making sure all along the way that their (students’) questions are answered, they’re supported, they have coaches, they have mentoring and — best of all — they’re going to get a college degree.”
He added, “This is really a story about human capital. We need everyone to be contributing in some way. These scholarships will help provide the educated workforce critical to North Texas’ economic future — and the main source of that ‘human capital’ is in complete agreement.”
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Read the original news release by the Biden Foundation and College Promise Campaign.