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My Town Kalamazoo: Celebrating a promise kept for a decade

My Town Kalamazoo: Celebrating a promise kept for a decade

KALAMAZOO, Mich.— A decade ago, Kalamazoo made a promise, which has now sent thousands of teenagers to college.

The Kalamazoo Promise is marking its ten-year milestone this year. Officials with the program say it is responsible for 4,000 scholarships totaling more than $60 million. 

The Kalamazoo Promise, which sparked a national movement, pays the full tuition of Kalamazoo Public School graduates who attend any college or university in Michigan.  Nearly 50 communities across the country have since adopted the free tuition model.

“In our city, that has meant changing our culture, knocking down barriers and raising expectations. We’ve really just begun, but we’ve accomplished so much already that the 10-year anniversary is a milestone we need to mark and leverage as we set the stage for the next 10 years,” said Von Washington Jr., The Kalamazoo Promise executive director for community relations.

My Town Kalamazoo: Chefs transform pantry goods into feasts in culinary competition

My Town Kalamazoo: Chefs transform pantry goods into feasts in culinary competition

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Local chefs will transform pantry foods into three-course feasts when a favorite competition returns to Kalamazoo next week.

Chefs Against Hunger will take place at Cityscape Events Center Tuesday, March 24.  Chefs must use ingredients from Ministry with Community’s pantry.  They’ll be assisted by a local celebrity sous-chef.

Chefs Against Hunger runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased online or at the door.  The event will also feature a silent auction, raffle and a big announcement from Ministry with Community.

My Town: 'Battle of the Buildings' underway in West Michigan

My Town: 'Battle of the Buildings' underway in West Michigan

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich.— A ‘Battle of the Buildings’ is underway in West Michigan, and the winner gets to keep more of their money.

The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan says more than 14 Grand Rapids area businesses have signed up for the competition to reduce energy usage.  Participants include Steelcase and Spectrum Health, JSJ Corporation in Grand Haven; Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Steelcase in Kentwood; The Grand Rapids Art Museum; Kent Intermediate School District; Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park; Aquinas College; Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo; the Muskegon County Hall of Justice and Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming.

This is the second year for the Battle of the Buildings.  For more information, including how to sign up your business, visit the campaign website here.

The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan raises awareness through random acts of kindness

The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan raises awareness through random acts of kindness

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day that is officially observed by the United Nations and will be celebrated on Saturday, March 21, 2015. WDSD was established to help raise awareness of exactly what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how those with Down syndrome are an important part of our communities.

To celebrate, the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan will be committing random acts of kindness on March 21 in three West Michigan communities:  Grand Rapids, Holland and Kalamazoo.  Random acts of kindness are selfless actions performed with the intention of assisting or lifting the spirits of a stranger.  Some examples include paying for someone’s fuel at a gas station, baking cookies for a local fire station, or handing out bubble gum in a public park. 

My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school

My Town Kalamazoo: $2 million gift means upgrades, scholarships for art school

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Studio upgrades and a new series of scholarships are coming to the Kirk Newman Art School, thanks to a $2 million gift from a Kalamazoo couple.

Rosemary and John Brown announced their donation to the school during a reception at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts earlier this month.  Kirk Newman, who was a longtime director of the art school, was in attendance.

"Our decision to give to the Kirk Newman Art School at the KIA is based on our admiration of Kirk as a person and on our desire to validate his legacy," said Rosemary Brown. "Our hope is that the school will continue to thrive and to have an ongoing positive influence on the cultural life of the Kalamazoo area."

My Town: DNR awards more than $4 million in grants for projects battling invasive species

My Town: DNR awards more than $4 million in grants for projects battling invasive species

---NEWS RELEASE—

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the award of 20 grant projects totaling more than $4 million, under the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program. 

The grant program is central to Michigan’s new invasive species initiative, which brings a multi-department, comprehensive approach to the ongoing problem of harmful, non-native invaders such as the Asian carp. The initiative enlists the expertise of the state departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Rural Development.

Projects funded in this round of grants include plans to:

My Town: Kalamazoo marks a decade of keeping 'The Promise’

My Town: Kalamazoo marks a decade of keeping 'The Promise’

---NEWS RELEASE---

This year, "The Kalamazoo Promise" community -- where anonymous donors put college education within the reach of every child here -- is celebrating a decade and nearly 4,000 scholarships thus far.

Kalamazoo Public Schools is the district where all high school graduates can count on full-tuition scholarships to any community college, public university or, new this year, a select group of private colleges in Michigan.

The Kalamazoo Promise is the famed initiative that sparked a national movement. Today, more than four dozen communities around the country have sought community transformation through free tuition strategies modeled at some level on the Kalamazoo effort. Most recently, President Barack Obama launched an initiative promoting free tuition for community colleges.