Harper launches Promise Scholarship program

March 29, 2015

An ambitious new initiative will provide public high school students in the Northwest suburbs with two years of free tuition at Harper College – if they’re willing to earn it. The Harper College Promise Scholarship program was formally announced at a kickoff event Monday, March 30, at the Wojcik Conference Center on the main campus in Palatine.

Harper College developed the Promise Scholarship in partnership with area public high schools and Northwest suburban business leaders with the goal of removing financial barriers for hardworking students while fostering the responsibility and life skills that will help them succeed in school, on the job, and beyond.

“A college credential has never been more crucial to success than in today’s 21st century economy,” Harper President Dr. Kenneth Ender said. “This program has the potential to positively impact not only deserving and motivated students, but the entire region by presenting employers with an educated and skilled workforce.”

By applying to the program as ninth-graders, students in Districts 211, 214 and 220 commit to posting solid grades and strong attendance, passing all their classes, successfully completing college preparatory work, and participating in community service. If they live up to these obligations during their four years in high school, they’ll earn up to two years of free tuition through the Harper Promise Scholarship program. Scholars are expected to continue to meet those standards at Harper to maintain their scholarship.

The jointly developed program criteria (see attached information sheet .PDF) will be tracked starting the second semester of a student’s freshman year in high school. It covers the areas of attendance, quality, rigor, persistence and community service.

“Like virtually all communities, we know that a number of students and families face economic challenges,” said Township High School District 211 Superintendent Dr. Daniel Cates. “I was fortunate to participate in the process of establishing the Harper Promise criteria from the start. I find strength in the fact that the Harper Promise strives to create opportunities for any and all students, regardless of any other demographic categories or designations.

The kickoff celebration featured a presentation featuring Promise’s educational, business and family partners. It included remarks from Cates, Township High School District 214 Superintendent Dr. David Schuler and Barrington Community Unit School District 220 Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris. Several Winston Junior High School eighth graders and their families also shared how being part of the inaugural Promise Scholars Class of 2019 could shape their future.

“Providing additional opportunities for students to earn post-secondary access has the potential to transform our community,” Schuler said.

Speakers also included Motorola Solutions Chairman and CEO Greg Brown and his wife, Anna, who are chairing the Promise Scholarship campaign to raise $10 million to fund the program today and into the future.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, eight of the top 10 fastest-growing careers require a two-year college degree. Entry into many of today’s good-paying careers – such as health care, manufacturing, public safety and technology – can be obtained through Harper College. Local corporate partners will be recruited to provide interviews, job shadowing experiences and act as preferential hirers of Promise graduates.

“It is vital that employers create partnerships with their local educational institutions that help improve the skills of America’s workers and keep businesses thriving,” Greg Brown said. “The Promise scholarship was developed in collaboration with Northwest suburban business leaders to promote the types of life skills that will help students succeed and create a pipeline of motivated employees.”

Students in a similar promise program in Peoria, Ill., graduated or transferred at a rate of 65 percent compared to 31 percent for students who didn’t participate in the program. Increasing the overall education of a community is a proven way to stimulate economic growth.

“The Harper Promise program is helping to ensure that a college education is available to all of Barrington 220’s students, regardless of financial ability,” Harris said. “We are happy to partner with Harper College in this exciting new endeavor.”

For more information about the Promise Scholarship, visit harpercollege.edu/promise.

Media contact: Phil Burdick, Chief Communication Officer, 847.925.6183