During its five-year anniversary celebration on March 28, Dallas County Promise announced its plan to expand by inviting additional campuses to the initiative that helps more Dallas County students complete college and begin self-sustaining careers. With this planned expansion, students at as many as 92 area high schools would be supported by this unique regional talent network, encompassing 28,000 high school seniors from all districts and charter networks across the county.
“We’re honored and excited to support the expansion of the Promise commitment to serve students with the greatest economic need,” said Katrina James, Managing Director of Dallas County Promise at the Commit Partnership. “To achieve our community’s true north goal of doubling living wage attainment and eliminating gaps by race and economic background by 2040, we have to continue to innovate and address underlying root causes that are preventing our students from accessing educational and career opportunities. This expansion will help us reach even more students and help put them on the path to earning a living wage – I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.”
The five-year anniversary celebration recognized the coalition of school districts, colleges, universities, employers, and community partners that joined forces in 2017 to form Dallas County Promise. Promise works to create an affordable pathway to a degree, certificate, or credential and includes a last-dollar tuition scholarship at 10 of the region’s two- and four-year college and university partners, including Dallas College, UNT Dallas, Texas Woman’s University, and Texas A&M-Commerce. The amount of local high school seniors participating in this innovative program exceeds the total graduating class of 18 different U.S. states.
Thanks to these great partnerships, Dallas County Promise has provided almost 90,000 high school seniors and their families with enhanced supports for completing college applications, financial aid, and enrollment processes, as well as a last-dollar scholarship to participating institutions during its first five years.
“UNT Dallas is committed to continuing to serve as a powerful engine for economic mobility within the Dallas region,” UNT Dallas President Bob Mong said during the five-year celebration. “Participation within the Dallas County Promise effort has helped us achieve significant enrollment growth, but we need to do even more, and this expansion and series of innovations collectively address that need.”
In addition to providing last dollar tuition scholarships, Dallas County Promise uses data and capacity building with partner high schools to help ensure that all students receive high-quality advising and can make an informed choice about their best fit postsecondary pathway. It’s clear these strategies are making an impact. In 2021-22, Promise saw almost 21,000 seniors indicate their intention to pursue a post-secondary education, the highest number in the history of the program. 81% of Promise seniors submitted a financial aid application, exceeding state and national averages and surpassing pre-COVID levels.
Today less than 1 in 5 Dallas County 8th grade students currently attain a post-secondary degree or credential a decade later by the age of 24, resulting in only 30% of Dallas County residents ages 25-34 earning a living wage. At a time when a postsecondary credential or degree is increasingly necessary to earn a living wage, the essential support that Dallas County Promise provides area seniors is invaluable.