Guest post: Detroiter pushs private promise

Dr. Nat Pernick wants folks to know there is already a Detroit Promise scholarship program.

Pernick created the Detroit College Promise and has been awarding scholarships for the past four years to Detroit Public School graduates who live in the school district and have signed up by ninth grade. The amount of the scholarships depends on how much money is raised and how many people apply. Last year, 160 graduates received one-time $500 grants. He is hoping that this year's recipients are eligible for $500 grants for two years.

The Detroit College Promise is not affiliated with the Promise Zone initiative created by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to provide universal scholarships for graduates in 10 high-poverty communities. Detroit is one of the cities but has yet to get its program up and running. It has, however, received a boost from Gov. Rick Snyder, who is helping to raise money.

Pernick, who says he is a third-generation Detroiter, said he came up with the idea from the Kalamazoo Promise and has seen the program grow over the past four years. It was initially funded by Pernick and his friends, but has also received support from others, notably alumni of the Detroit Public Schools.

He says those working on the Promise Zone initiative have shown little desire to cooperate with him, which he attributes to the city's history of cronyism and the tendency of people to want to work only with "their buddies." As a result, he says, people are confused when he tells them Detroit already has a promise scholarship program up and running and seeking contributions.

"I will meet with anybody and talk with anybody," he said. "I don't have the leadership of Detroit coming to me and saying tell me about your program, or we would support it if you would do this. I have them asking, who are you working with?"

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