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Columbus Promise Commits To Sending More Students to CSCC for Years To Come

city officials standing in a row

June 13, 2024 — In November 2021, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin proudly introduced Columbus Promise. This three-year pilot program would offer Columbus City Schools (CCS) students tuition-free access to Columbus State Community College (CSCC). In 2024, Hardin stood in the CSCC Workforce and Development Center, promising the program would extend beyond those three years.

“Based on the overwhelming community support and the outcomes in our pilot phase, we will continue the Columbus Promise past the third cohort,” Hardin said. “We want parents and families to know we are going to make sure this program continues to exist for their sons and daughters.”

In addition to tuition, Columbus Promise covers student fees, provides a $500 stipend each semester, and offers wraparound academic and career support. Students can apply regardless of GPA, undocumented status, enrollment status, or preferred degree.

“We said we want to take a bet on any student who was willing to take a bet on themselves,” Hardin said. “Well, that promise has come to fruition.”

Hardin spearheaded the initiative with leaders from CCS, CSCC, I Know I Can, and others. The program is funded half by the City of Columbus and half by contributions from over 20 private sector corporations and philanthropists.

The announcement follows a third-party analysis by the W.E. Upjohn Institute, which credited Columbus Promise for significantly increasing college attendance among students unlikely to attend college. In 2018, 378 CCS students matriculated to CSCC; by 2023, that number rose to 793, with 90% being Columbus Promise scholars.

Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO Dr. Angela Chapman praised the program's impact, noting that nearly 50% of CCS graduates attend college, and one-third join Columbus Promise. Nearly 80% of Columbus Promise scholars are Pell-eligible from low-income households.

“What’s most significant to me is that many of our Columbus Promise scholars are first-generation college students like myself who had to balance part-time enrollment with other responsibilities,” Chapman said. “This program has provided essential support to help our students succeed.”

Columbus State Community College President  Dr. David T. Harrison highlighted that students excel  academically and professionally, pursuing degrees in high-demand fields such as health sciences, computer science, and engineering. Currently, 50 Columbus Promise scholars are in “earn and learn” internships where they receive payment while learning skills for their desired industry.

“These career opportunities can and will change the trajectories of the lives of the students and their families,” Harrison said.

Eder Pacheco Hernandez, a 2023 Whetstone High School graduate, credits Columbus Promise for his success. He is pursuing an Associate’s degree in business management and plans to attend Capital University. He will soon begin an internship at IGS Energy.

“I am really excited about this being my first business management-related job,” Hernandez said. “They provide a very flexible schedule that aligns with my classes and my personality. It will allow me to be competitive.”

Ashley Logan, chief program officer for I Know I Can, said over 850 CCS graduates applied so far this year.

“This is really a true testament to their hard work, dreaming big, and working hard,” Logan said, adding that it is also a testament to the partnership.

The program is currently recruiting for its third cohort. Applications are due July 15, and eligible seniors can learn more at Columbus Promise.

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