Detroit Promise free college program for residents marks 10th anniversary

It’s a major milestone - the 10th anniversary of Detroit Promise a program to help eligible residents pursue a tuition-free path to college.

One of those recipients is Detroiter Devine Reed, who is now officially a college graduate.

"It was a lot of pressure a lot of hardships along the way," said Devine Reed. "I am the first in my household to graduate with a bachelor’s."

The Detroit Promise allows all eligible city residents to have a tuition-free path to an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or technical certificate at participating academic institutions.

"Something told me to go and apply to Wayne County and with the Detroit Promise Scholarship," Reed said. "I was able to dabble around, choose different programs to see what I wanted to do, and with that scholarship it allowed me to earn my bachelors."

She received a BA at Wayne State University last year and is now working as a Human Resources Assistant.

On Monday Devine joined Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other members of the program to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program.

As the mayor listened to the success stories of current and former participants one thing became clear

"Your first week of class as a freshman, they didn't say to you there's college money waiting for you at the end of the day if that's your dream?" Duggan asked the group.

"No," they said.

"I’m going to have to go to these high schools myself," Duggan said. "I had this sense that when I talk to teenagers they don’t seem to be aware of it. I think that’s a problem.

"So we’re launching a big ad campaign but after getting a chance to talk to these students, I think it’s going to be obvious we need to be physically in the schools far more intensely."

Program organizers agree that increased awareness will attract more participants, and they hope the new ad campaign will help.

"Since 2013 we’ve helped 6,000 students attend college tuition-free," said Jade Scott, Detroit Regional Chamber Detroit Promise. "However for us it’s not enough. We know there are more students out there, that want to pursue a degree and we want to be able to help them."

And Detroit Promise makes it clear, this program does more than provide tuition.

"We have coaches, we have emergency funds, we have book stipends," said Scott.

Reed encourages all eligible Detroit residents to apply.

"No student loan debt, fresh start, clean slate into adulthood, so it means everything," she said.

For more information on the program go to

Devine Reed