Promise Nation: Transforming Communities Through Place-Based Scholarships

"Promise Nation convincingly confirms and documents the power of a simple, elegant guarantee of a free college education to transform lives and revitalize communities. As the experience of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the dozens of communities across the country now developing their own versions of the Kalamazoo Promise show, not only can Promise programs achieve their direct goal of helping more students earn postsecondary degrees and credentials, they can also help communities realize goals that have long frustrated policymakers: reversing outmigration, stabilizing populations and housing values, and driving new economic development." -- John Austin, President, Michigan State Board of Education.

Published by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2015
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The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo

When a group of anonymous donors announced in 2005 that they would send every graduate of this midsized public school district to college for free, few within or outside Kalamazoo, Michigan, understood the magnitude of the gesture. Now, in the first comprehensive account of the Kalamazoo Promise, Michelle Miller-Adams charts its initial impact as well as its potential to bring about fundamental economic and social change in a community hurt by job loss, depopulation, and racial segregation.

Published by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2009
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Owning Up: Poverty, Assets, and the American Dream

America’s low-wage workers lack many of the resources, both tangible and intangible, that provide middle-class Americans with a sense of security, stability, and a stake in the future. In Owning Up, Michelle Miller-Adams demonstrates how asset-building programs, used in combination with traditional income-based support, can be an effective means for helping millions of American out of poverty.

Published by the Brookings Institution Press, 2002
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The World Bank: New Agendas in a Changing World

This book considers the nature of change at the World Bank, the key institution through which rich nations channel resources to poorer ones. Through detailed case studies of three important issue areas -- private sector development, collaboration with NGOs, and good governance – Miller-Adams finds that the World Bank’s organizational culture and internal norms, dating from its earliest days, are the key drivers of change and continue to shape the institution’s ability to meet today’s development challenges.

Published by Routledge, 1999 (available on Kindle)
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Articles & working papers

The Evolution of the Promise Scholarship Movement: Replication, Reinvention, and Critical Design Choices , paper presented at the American Educational Researchers Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, 2015. (PDF, 741kb)

The Economic Development Impact of Place-Based Scholarship Programs: Initial Results from Kalamazoo, Michigan, paper presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, 2013. (PDF, 279kb)

Can Universal, Place-Based Scholarships Reduce Inequality? Lessons from the Kalamazoo Promise, paper presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 22-25, 2010. (PDF, 279kb)

The Kalamazoo Promise and the Diffusion of a Private Policy Innovation, paper presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 2-5, 2009. (PDF, 173kb)

A Simple Gift? The Impact of the Kalamazoo Promise on Economic Revitalization, Employment Research, W.E. Upjohn Institute, July 2006. (PDF, 613kb)



Critical Design Choices in Promise Scholarship Programs, April, 2015. (PowerPoint, 760kb)

The Kalamazoo Promise: Building Assets for Community Change, March 2014.(PowerPoint, 738kb)

The Economic Development Impact of Promise-type Programs, April 2014. (PowerPoint, 3.59Mb)

Reducing Inequality Through Universal, Place-Based Scholarship Programs, January 2011. (PowerPoint, 2.56Mb)