Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Kalamazoo Promise Moves to a New Downtown Space Designed to Help Students Thrive

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The new space will be open for students for tutoring, study time, guidance, college and career preparation and other resources to help them as they prepare for life after high school, Executive Director Von Washington Jr. said. Throughout the entire space, design elements reflect the Promise’s slogan, “Your Path. Your Passion.” Linear lines, winding light fixtures and colorful beams represent multiple pathways that students can take after high school.

The move into a new space followed a rebranding effort in 2019 that emphasized the multitude of options that students have after graduating from Kalamazoo Public Schools. The scholarship money can be used for college tuition, trade school or similar post-secondary opportunities. Prior to the move, the Promise office didn’t have the space to offer targeted programming such as professional speakers or tutoring time, he said. They will now be able to bring in industry professionals to share with students about different career opportunities.

“We will be open after school hours for students to come and study, get tutoring, questions answered, read a book or just share study time or educational time with their friends,” Washington said. “We want to be a bridge for those students,” Washington said.

Promise officials plan to open the space up to post-secondary students seeking assistance during the day. During after-school hours, the space will be available for middle and high school students, Washington said. The scholarship was announced in 2015 and has since been offered to more than 8,000 graduates.

“We want to make sure that there’s an opportunity for those students who need extra support and want to have a good place, a safe place to be in downtown Kalamazoo,” Washington said. But even with the new address, the Promise’s collaboration with Communities in Schools Kalamazoo will remain the same, Washington said. The two organizations will once again share a space that allows for mutual support of their shared mission of student success.

Also on MLive: The scholarship program’s offices were housed in a temporary space on the Kalamazoo Mall for about a year and half, Washington said. Originally planned for the summer 2020, the move to the Warner Building was delayed due to construction setbacks because of the pandemic, he said. The Warner Building will also be home to the offices of Southwest Michigan First and the Stryker Johnston Foundation. The building also has 45 apartments at affordable, market and premium rates.

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