Living United Locally: Lansing Promise and Capital Area College Access Network
Sunday, January 22, 2017

By Tamara El-Khoury Watson

For James G. Curry II, a Lansing Promise scholarship not only supported him through his first two years at Michigan State University, it instilled a drive to give back to the City of Lansing. That is why, after graduating with a degree in international relations, he choose to pursue his law degree locally, at Cooley Law School.
“I really believe in Lansing,” Curry said. “[The Promise scholarship] showed me that people were willing to invest. You always hear the old adage that children are our future. It was nice to see action put behind those words.” 
The Lansing Promise is a place-based scholarship available to any student who lives within the Lansing School District boundaries, attends grades 9 through 12 at a public, private, home, virtual or charter school located within the Lansing School District boundaries, graduates and is accepted to Michigan State University, Lansing Community College or Olivet College. Since 2012, Lansing Promise has invested more than $1 million directly into Promise Scholarships. Curry was in the first class of students to receive the scholarship.
Lansing Promise is a 501c3 nonprofit organization co-located within the Capital Area United Way (CAUW) offices. Because CAUW supports local programs in three priority categories, basic needs, secure families, and student achievement, Lansing Promise fits well with its mission Among the many ways CAUW supports student achievement in the Lansing region, providing back-office services and leased office space to Lansing Promise and another student achievement program called Capital Area College Access Network (CapCAN), allows those organizations to focus more solely on their missions.
“We as a community are investing in the lives of our children to reduce financial barriers to education and career training after high school for every young person living and schooling within the Lansing School District boundaries,” said Justin Sheehan, executive director of Lansing Promise.
Seventy percent of jobs in the capital region require higher education, therefore Lansing Promise and CapCAN work to improve the rates of those achieving some form of higher education in Ingham County. 
“CapCAN works to support low-income, first generation and minority students as they navigate the college-going process whether it be for two or four-year degrees, certificates, apprenticeships or the military,” said CapCAN’s executive director, Michele Strasz. 
CapCan has a network of college advisors located at eight different area high schools who work one on one with students and their parents to guide them through the college application process and including financial aid forms.
Strasz also encourages students and parents to learn more by attending an annual event called Launch Your Dream College and Career Conference on Wednesday, March 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The conference is free to attend and held at the Capital Area Career Center located at 611 Hagadorn Rd. in Mason.
“This is community development at a unique level,” Sheehan said. “A focused effort on building the person that makes the place. And thanks to every single member of this community, we will continue to change lives and generations one student at a time.”
To learn more about resources for education after high school, visit and
For almost 100 years, Capital Area United Way has served the residents of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties by connecting people in need with local resources. In this series, Tamara El-Khoury Watson, Community Resources associate at Capital Area United Way, introduces readers to the people and programs of United Way working to improve our entire community.
Printed in the January 22, 2017 - February 4, 2017 edition.

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