A program to provide free community college tuition to Dallas County students is aimed at helping people and improving the work force.
Dallas County Promise will provide scholarships to any student graduating from 31 Dallas County high schools, regardless of grade point average or family income.
Students can attend any of the seven Dallas County Community College District campuses.
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"Donors have funded this initiative because they believe that it is important for the citizens of Dallas County to attain a higher education," said DCCCD Associate Vice Chancellor Anna Mays.
Students who might not otherwise consider college may find doors open because of the program.
Carter High School senior Jasyia Jackson said she wants to be a psychologist, a career that will require college. But she was worried she could not pursue it before learning about the Promise program.
“It will keep me more motivated to go through the process and not quit, because they will help me out,” she said.
Carter senior Valerie Lopez said the program will help her complete college for her goal of a real estate appraisal career.
“It would have been like a lot of working, getting a job, worrying about, would I have to pay for bills on top of that,” Lopez said.
Carter is one of the 31 high schools included in the initial program. The schools were selected because they are already involved with DCCCD in early college programs. Supporters hope to add more Dallas County high schools as additional funding is lined up.
DCCCD Administrator Mays said she is an example of the many Dallas families that could be helped with this program.
“Yes, I’m first generation college. My parents didn’t graduate from high school and I would never have imagined that I would be here,” she said.
The University of North Texas at Dallas is a partner to help students complete four-year college degrees after community college. Southern Methodist University has pledged a limited number of scholarships to complete bachelor's degrees. Additional universities are being recruited for the Promise program.
“We have really committed together to make a collective impact on the community,” Mays said. “A lot of the employers who are here and coming here are looking for these graduates.”
The Carter seniors said they hopes them achieve their dreams.
“I actually have a cousin that lives in Mansfield, Texas. And he has a very, very nice house, beautiful home,” Valerie Lopez said.
The Promise program will include coaching to help participants complete their courses.
“You can’t just do half the work. If you want to be somebody, you have to do all of it,” Jasyia Jackson said.
The program will begin in the Fall of 2018, but students must register by Jan. 31, 2018.