Promise Zone scholarships to West Shore Community College will be awarded to all eligible students in the graduating class of 2018, the Mason County Promise Zone Authority Board announced today.

Scholarships will be available to students from this year’s graduating class, starting with the Fall 2018 semester at West Shore Community College.

“The Promise Scholarship is a victory for our community, educators, parents and most importantly our students. This opportunity gives our students a sense of hope that opportunities that were lost before are now possible. Students feel a sense of honor that our community has made this level of commitment in their futures and they are excited for the next step in their educational journeys,” said Dena Thurston, Promise Zone Authority Board member and Mason County Eastern educator.

The Promise will provide education and training opportunities to graduates of Mason County schools in an effort to enhance the skilled trades and the workforce development of the community and continue to improve the economic growth of Mason County and the surrounding region.

In order to be eligible for scholarships, students must meet all of the following criteria:

 Graduation and Residency Requirement

•Graduate with a diploma and reside within the boundaries of one of the following three school districts within Mason County: Mason County Central Schools, Mason County Eastern Schools, or Ludington Area School District with a cumulative 2.00 Grade Point Average (GPA) or more, or;

•Graduate from Gateway to Success Academy with a cumulative 2.00 Grade Point Average or above, or;

•Obtain a GED and reside within the boundaries of Mason County

 FAFSA Requirement

•Complete the federal student aid application using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year that the student intends to use proceeds from the Promise scholarship.

 WSCC Enrollment Requirement

•Enroll at the eligible partnering institution, West Shore Community College

Ferpa Release Requirement

•Complete Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) release to the Mason County Promise Zone Authority Board and partnering institutions.

 Funding sources

The first two years of the Promise scholarship are being funded through a combination of generous gifts from private donors, corporate and foundation investments, federal and/or state financial aid available to Mason County students, and all other eligible sources. Future years of the scholarship will be funded through the capture of one-half of the growth of State Education Tax (SET) dollars in Mason County.

Through the support of generous donors, more than half of the projected $877,265 needed for the first two years of operation has already been raised, with present matching opportunities still available for potential donors to consider.

“While we continue to seek private donations to support the issuance of scholarships to students, the generous contributions of donors like the family of Jack and Shirley Rasmussen have provided the financial backing necessary to award Promise scholarships to all eligible students in the class of 2018,” said Jason Kennedy, chair of the Promise Zone Authority Board and Ludington Area Schools superintendent.

The family of Jack and Shirley Rasmussen have offered up to a $200,000 match to kick off of the fundraising campaign for the Mason County Promise. Donors wishing to help the Promise Zone meet this match can contribute to the Mason County Promise Fund through the Community Foundation for Mason County online at www.mason-foundation.org, or by sending a check to the Community Foundation for Mason County with “Mason County Promise Fund” written on the memo line to P.O. Box 10, Ludington, Michigan, 49431.

“What better gift can a community give to its children than the gift of an education?” said Promise Zone visionary and Authority Board member, Annette Quillan.

Next Steps for Eligible Students

Students who meet the requirements of the Promise Zone Development Plan will receive a letter of eligibility outlining the steps necessary to apply and accept the terms and conditions of the scholarship. These letters will be mailed to eligible students no later than June 15. The application process will be outlined within the eligibility letter for students.

For more information about the Mason County Promise Zone and the terms and conditions of the scholarship, visit the Authority Board’s website at www.masoncountypromise.org.