Saranac Promise ‘really does make a dent’

SARANAC, Mich. (WOOD) — A new program is helping students at Saranac Community Schools pay for their college education.

The Saranac Promise is available to students who graduate from Saranac High School.

“We saw that enrollments in our school, like many other schools after the recession, were declining,” Saranac Promise committee member David Price said. “How do you reverse that trend? How do you provide the kids those opportunities they’re going to need to succeed today?”

The promise will be phased in over the next few years. It currently offers merit-based scholarships worth between $500 and $1,000. When the program is fully implemented in 2017, it will offer eligible students $4,000 each year.

“I thought it would have been a great opportunity for young people, especially people like (my son) Leighton that are trying their hardest to make ends meet,” Eric Carigon, whose son received a Promise scholarship, said.

Leighton Bell is a sophomore at Grand Rapids Community College. He works two jobs to fund his education. This year and last, he received help in the form of a $1,000 scholarship from the Promise.

“It really does make a dent,” Bell said. “No matter what school you go to, $1,000 is $1,000.”

“To me, it means the world,” his father said. “Myself and Leighton’s mother both work full-time jobs, and a lot of that money goes to bills and just everyday living, And an extra $1,000 for an education is an important thing.”

Saranac Promise recipients must be enrolled in an eligible Michigan college, university or vocational school.

This week, Saranac Community Schools will make a big announcement regarding a donation to the program at its alumni dinner.

Also this week, the Kalamazoo Promise — which funds college for Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates — will make an announcement about a change to its program.

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