2017 Schedule


Monday, November 6, 2017

12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Opening session (buffet lunch)

Welcome from conference organizers

Introductory remarks by WMU President Ed Montgomery

Keynote address by Karen Pittman, Forum for Youth Investment
"Equity, Opportunity, and Readiness - Changing the Odds Together"
1:45 - 3:00 p.m. Research Plenary - Taking Stock, Moving Forward
3:30 - 4:45 p.m. Promise Blitz
Round robin-style focusing on shared challenges and possible solutions
5:30 - 7:00 p.m. Reception at Kalamazoo Valley Community College Culinary and Healthy Living Campus


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Continental breakfast available
9:00 - 10:15 a.m. Opening session

Welcome and introduction to the day

Keynote address by Sara Lundquist, Lumina Foundation
"Keeping the Promise: Taking Stock of the Role of Higher Ed Institutions"
10:30 - 11:45 a.m. Breakout session 1 (choose only one, see session descriptions below)
  • Promise Program Design Lab
  • The Promise v. Poverty: Building Programs with Equity in Mind
  • Implementing the Promise at all Grade Levels
  • Promise Programs for Adult Learners
  • When Place-based becomes State-based: Promise Programs at the State Level
12:00 - 1:15 p.m. Buffet lunch and panel presentation - The Promise as an Economic Development Tool
1:30 - 2:45 p.m. Breakout session 2 (choose only one, see session descriptions below)
  • Promise Program Funding Lab
  • Managing Your Promise
  • Powerful Practices for College Readiness and Access
  • Diverse Players, Common Goals: Leveraging partnerships across sectors
  • Show Me the Evidence: How Research Can Inform Policy and Practice
3:00 - 4:15 p.m. Breakout session 3 (choose only one, see session descriptions below)
  • Branding and Marketing Your Promise
  • Children's Savings Accounts (CSA's): How CSAs Can Comlement Promise Programs & Engage the Youngest Children
  • Evaluating Your Promise
  • In Pursuit of the Completion Agenda: Powerful Practices for College Success
  • Promise Coalition Building: Tangible Skills for Organizing Your Community
4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Closing session
Future of PromiseNet discussion/Youth Voices/Closing message
6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Concluding reception (details TBD)


Breakout Session Topics

"How-to" track

Breakout sessions in this track will explore issues to consider as you create or develop a new Promise program.

Promise Program Design Lab — How do Promise programs build on local assets to respond to local needs? This session will support participants in thinking about their community’s critical needs and developing design parameters with those needs in mind.

Promise Program Funding Lab — Promise programs are not just about the money, but a transformative scholarship component will require a secure funding source. This session examines different types of funding models as well as sustainability challenges.

Branding and Marketing Your Promise — How can your mission be conveyed most effectively to students, families, community members, and the media? This session will explore the importance of branding and share insider tips for effective marketing.

Managing Your Promise — Effective – and cost-effective – management of a Promise program is important to its success. In this session, you will learn how Promise communities are managing the administrative aspects of their program, from keeping track of data to paying out scholarships.

Evaluating Your Promise — How should program stakeholders measure the success of their Promise program? What indicators should be tracked and reported out, and how can the lessons of evaluation be used to further strengthen a Promise program? This session, led by program evaluators, answers these questions.


The Promise from pre-K through career – cradle-to-career track

Promise programs affect students all along the cradle-to-career continuum. Breakout sessions in this track explore the intersection of Promise programs and youth development at several pivotal moments.

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs): How CSAs Can Complement Promise Programs and Engage the Youngest Children — CSAs are an important innovation in family asset-building that can complement a Promise program. This session will cover the basics of CSAs, share specific examples of communities that have integrated Promise and CSA programs, and explore how CSAs can be an important component in building college savings and aspirations.

Implementing the Promise at all Grade Levels — School and community support at all grade levels is essential to make the Promise real for students and positively affect their future trajectory. Students will succeed when there is a cohesive system of supports in the pre-K-12 setting and smooth transitions along the educational pipeline. This session will examine various models of school- and community-based support for students, showing how Promise programs can catalyze greater community and family engagement.

Powerful Practices for College Readiness and Access — For many students, the barriers to college are not primarily financial. What strategies are needed to adequately prepare students academically, socially, and behaviorally for success in higher education? This session will dig deeply into strategies mainly at the high school level for increasing equity, readiness, and access so that all students can benefit from their Promise program.

In Pursuit of the Completion Agenda: Powerful Practices for College Success — Promise programs seek not just expanded college access, but also the completion of degrees or credentials of value in the workplace. This session explores barriers to student success in higher education and best practices to address them. Specific topics will include approaches to developmental coursework, academic assessment and career guidance, mentorship programs, dropout/stopout recovery, and strategies for combating food and housing insecurity.

Promise Programs for Adult Learners — A growing number of Promise programs, including some statewide programs, include adult learners among their beneficiaries. What does the evidence show about the need for these programs? What special challenges are involved in serving the adult population, what support components are critical and where is this work being done successfully?


Community alignment track

Promise programs can be powerful tools for community alignment, including the strengthening of partnerships across sectors. Breakout sessions in this track analyze how cross-sector alignment can be maximized in Promise communities.

Diverse Players, Common Goals: Leveraging partnerships across sectors — Promise programs are powerful catalysts for cross-sector alignment. How can the diverse players with a stake in such programs, from educators to government, business, and philanthropy, work together most effectively to promote positive change in their communities?

The Promise v. Poverty: Building programs with equity in mind — At the heart of the Promise movement is the goal of creating opportunity for disadvantaged populations and communities. This session will explore what we know about the potential and limitations of Promise programs to combat poverty and unemployment, and boost economic revitalization. The “Single Stop” model for connecting families to resources will be discussed as part of this session.


Policy and research track

These sessions provide high-level views about the evolution of Promise-related policy, advocacy, and research.

When Place-based becomes State-based: Promise Programs at the State Level — When they first began, Promise initiatives used universal scholarships to enhance place-based economic development at the community level. More recently, states have begun making Promise scholarships key parts of their own economic development and workforce strategies. In this session we will examine what these state-level programs look like and how they are working. We'll also spotlight results from the Tennessee Promise, the first of these state-wide Promise initiatives.

Show me the evidence: how research can inform policy and practice — The impact of Promise programs is magnified when stakeholders embrace a continuous improvement model, learning from research and adjusting their strategies accordingly. This session explores how this approach has played out in several communities where research has informed practice in ways that expand opportunity for youth.

Promise Coalition Building: Tangible Skills for Organizing your Community — Building Promise programs requires broad-based support in communities and from community leaders. How can Promise champions effectively build this diverse coalition of support? This session will prepare participants to leverage the resources and relationships they already have by sharing tangible organizing skills like storytelling, power mapping, and building a community-based organizing strategy.