November 02, 2023 --- On the evening of October 31, 2023, Columbus City Council passed multiple ordinances related to the Columbus Promise: extending I Know I Can’s contract to administer the program, extending the W.E. Upjohn Institute’s contract for program evaluation and technical assistance, and entering into a contract with Elevate Advocacy LLC for stakeholder engagement and program planning. This coincided with the two-year anniversary of the program. Partners shared updates with the Council Monday night.
The Columbus Promise enables Columbus City Schools students to attend Columbus State Community College for free. Council President Shannon Hardin championed the idea alongside leaders from Columbus City Schools, Columbus State Community College, I Know I Can, the Columbus Foundation, and others to make it happen. Columbus Promise Scholars have tuition and fees covered, receive an extra stipend for books and transportation, access specialized advising support for success, and can participate in paid “learn and intern” internships at local companies.
The program has had stellar results. Historically, about 300 students graduated from Columbus City Schools and enrolled in Columbus State Community College in the Autumn semester. In August 2021, immediately before the program launched, 313 students enrolled. That number climbed to 694 students in August 2022 and to 718 in August 2023, buoyed by a 36% increase in FAFSA completion in Columbus City Schools. About one-third of Columbus City Schools now graduate into the Columbus Promise program. More than 70% of Promise Scholars are low-income students of color.
“When we first announced the Promise, we said it was a three-year pilot. What I want everyone to know is that we’ve heard loud and clear from community members, from parents, from the scholars that the program needs to continue and to expand," says Council President Shannon Hardin. "So, we’re working with our partners to see how we can continue to keep our promise to our young people.”
The program has been praised for its inclusive design, with no GPA requirements, inclusion of part-time students and undocumented students, and offering access to pre-apprenticeship and certificate programs, not just associate’s degrees.
The program is half-funded by the City of Columbus and half-funded by contributions from over 20 private sector corporations and philanthropists who know that for Columbus to achieve inclusive prosperity, we need to invest in the potential of all residents to get the skills and education they need to get the good jobs we are bringing here.
Learn more about the Columbus Promise at https://cbuspromise.com/. Applications for Columbus City Schools Class of 2024 will be opening soon!