Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pontiac Students in the Promise Zone are increasing scholarship awards

Pontiac’s Promise Zone looking to increase scholarship awards WITH VIDEO

Nineteen-year-old Arielis Bernard is one of the almost 50 students who are taking advantage of the Pontiac Promise Zone scholarship guarantee.

Arielis is a second-year student at Oakland Community College Auburn Hills Campus and a 2011 graduate of Pontiac Academy for Excellence.

Erique Allen, also a graduate of PAE and a freshman at Northwood University majoring in hotel restaurant management, was so grateful for his Promise Zone Scholarship, he wrote a letter of thanks to the board.

The charter PAE academy is one of nine schools within the Pontiac school district boundaries whose graduates are eligible to apply for the scholarships. The boundaries include portions of Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake and the townships of West Bloomfield, Bloomfield, Waterford and Orion.

The goal for the 2013-14 school year is to increase the maximum amount of a Promise Zone Scholarship from $3,000 to $4,000 for up to two years.

However, funding challenges could keep it at $3,000 a year, said Carris Carey, executive director of the organization, who is optimistic about raising enough funds to increase the scholarship amount before the application deadline of June 1.

In part, Carey’s optimism comes from the fact that he is excited about a new strategy that will change the focus of Promise Zone to not only give scholarships but provide support to students to help ensure they complete their education.

Part of the strategy will include working with businesses, corporations, organizations and educational institutions to invest not only financially but with internships in Promise Zone students who are majoring in specific career areas that they need.

The investment will not only provide a needed workforce, but keep young people here, who will buy houses in the Pontiac district and frequent businesses and overall help invigorate the communities, Carey said.

To help carry out the plan, “We just got a grant with Michigan College Access Network,” Carey said. The focus of that grant is to start a college success action team.
“We will be partnering with Pontiac school district, OCC and Baker College, to lay the groundwork for a seamless transition from high school to those two entities,” starting with today’s 11th graders, Carey said.

In his letter to Carey and the Promise Zone committee, Erique said, in part, “I really appreciate the blessing of coming from the city of Pontiac and that I would have help from others in my city,” said Erique, who is in his second semester and made it to the Dean’s list first semester.

Altogether, the Promise Zone awarded a total of $46,550 in scholarships to 49 students this Spring and $43,268 in Fall, 2012.

The scholarship amount ranged from as low as $4 to as high as the maximum of $1,500 each semester toward tuition bills that ranged from as low as $904 at OCC to as high as $14,578, depending on the college or university the student is attending.

Students awarded the tuition scholarships for the 2012-2013 school year were graduates of Pontiac High School, Pontiac Academy of Excellence, Auburn Hills Christian, Oakland Christian in Auburn Hills, International Academy and Notre Dame Preparatory School, Pontiac,

Carris said eight of the students are attending OCC. The rest are students at Oakland University, Rochester College, Michigan State University Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Baker College, University of Michigan, Grand Valley State university, Northwood University, Adrian College, Central Michigan University, Sienna Heights University, Lawrence Technology University, and Saginaw Valley University.

All applicants must first apply for financial aid, which is applied first to the tuition bill before the Promise Zone Scholarship is awarded to help make up the difference. The number of years a student attends a school within the Pontiac district is also a factor in the award.


To learn more about Promise Zone program, to donate or to fill out an application, please visit http://www.pontiacpromisezone.org or email ccarey@pontiacpromisezone.org or call 248-214-0456.

Contact Diana Dillaber Murray at 248-745-4638 or diana.dillaber@oakpress.com or follow her on Twitter at @DDillybar.