Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Small Town Promise


You’ve probably heard of the Kalamazoo Promise which promises a four year college education to anyone who graduates from the local high school. The promise has created a boom in Kalamazoo, MI which had been spiraling downward prior to announcing its promise.

I learned of a similar promise in a small town of 1,000 near my hometown, but this town’s promise is not well publicized and as a result it hasn’t had the economic impact that I would like to see. The town is dormant, with a population that is aging in place.

Several years ago, a local farm family left several thousand acres of farmland and cash in trust for students of this farming town. With todays land values, that trust is today well north of $10 million. At a 5% spend ratio, the IRS formula for most trusts, the trust must spend over $500,000/year in scholarships. With only 30 students/year graduating from the local high school, the trust not only pays for undergraduate school but also for most of graduate school.

Imagine what could happen in your town with a promise like this! All it takes is one, very forward-thinking family to change a community for generations and centuries into the future.

8 comments:

I said...

What little town are you referring to?

BoomtownUSA said...

Sorry, but I am respecting their wishes and not revealing their name. I wish that I could tell you.

Bob said...

I understand you've promised not to give the name of the town. But, that doesn't mean you can't give us the zip code!

BoomtownUSA said...

Lips are sealed

plainjane said...

I don't get it. I thought that you implied that it was sad that the lack of publicity for this project is hampering the potential good impact in this town. Wouldn't you want to help them out and divulge the name? Or did you in reality just mention it to make us all jealous of your insider info? (Because it worked!)

BoomtownUSA said...

If I was a community leader in this town, I would be trying to get the "city fathers" to publicize this promise as this town is slowly aging in place and needs to be revitalized.

However, I gave my word that I wouldn't reveal their name unless they wanted me to. So far, they have not asked me to do that. Sorry!

the urban farmer said...

wow, what a great idea! and how fortunate those that live in this mystery town are to have this opportunity.
how do you think this kind of estate planning can be encouraged? wouldn't it be valuable to create an online community to post templates that might encourage and assist someone in creating/duplicating this type of effort? i wholeheartedly agree with you - imagine what could happen!!
and, i wonder, how does a place that offers this kind of benefit go about attracting newcomers that are interested in not only taking but also contribute to and participate in growing opportunities?
i've been reading a blog that does a great job of creatively addressing rural issues(www.reimaginerural.com). and i'm in the process of creating and building 'communities' in another program (www.truethinker.com) that will, hopefully, become a centralized location for introductions, ideas, and information sharing.
btw, i found you via a link on the www.reimaginerural.com blog, perhaps you can share a link back to them - i think your readers would enjoy it!

BoomtownUSA said...

Urban Farmer: Great ideas and great website. I'll link up with reimanginerural and with your truethinker when you get it set up.

What is shocking to me, is that the town wants to keep their promise program secret. And, they are dying as a town which makes it all the more bewildering.