A benefit to help keep college students local with scholarships is coming up Thursday evening. The Jacksonville Promise’s “Evening of Promise” dinner at Hamilton’s will be held Thursday at 6PM. Dr. Charles Sheaff spoke last week on What’s On Your Mind about how long the scholarship program has been going on and where it draws its inspiration: “This gala on Thursday will be kicking off our fundraising efforts that will provide scholarships for students entering college next Fall, which will be our fifth round of scholarships. We’ve been in existence for almost 6 years now at least as an incorporated entity. However, we’ve been on the drawing boards for about 9 years with the committee that’s discussed the idea and the approach. The concept of ‘The Promise’ is something that we adopted from the Kalamazoo Promise, where a bunch of independent investors got together and decided that it would be good for the community. It would stimulate people into the community if their kids got a college education.”
The Kalamazoo Promise group, which has been in existence for about 11 years, was later emulated by a similar group in Eldorado, Arkansas, which has been in existence for about 9 years. The Arkansas program matches scholarship funding for schools around the nation instead of in-state only. Scheaff says the Jacksonville program isn’t quite the size of the two original programs that inspired them, but is having similar economic impact to the community. “What we have discovered in our five years,” said Scheaff, “is while we cannot match the benevolence of the Kalamazoo group, we cannot provide all tuition and fees for 4 years, we can provide an economic incentive for students to go to school locally. By keeping college students locally and by having 3 colleges in our community, we are in a unique position where we can grow our economic base and we are already an economic engine for Jacksonville in that we know some students are going to school here when they would have gone to school elsewhere.”
The “Evening of Promise” kicks off the fundraising campaign for next fall’s scholarships. There will be an assortment of silent and live auction items up for grabs, including Cubs and Cardinals tickets. To view the auction items, visit Jacksonville Promise on Facebook to view all the lots for bid. Dr. David Goldman, a mentalist will provide entertainment and pianist Tyler Maul will provide music during the cocktail hour. To RSVP to the event contact Lynne Scheaff at 217-690-9371. If you are unable to call ahead, some tickets will still be available at the door. Tickets are $40 per person or $300 per table. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.