New scholarship program hopes to provide â??promiseâ?? of college to Flint students

Local state lawmakers are pushing to make Flint a Promise Zone. It would open the way to get college scholarships for students who live in Flint, and graduate from high school in the city.

"The whole mentality has changed. It's not I need to get to school and do well so I can go to college. It's I need to do well because I am going to college,â?? said State Rep. Phil Phelps, (D) Flushing.

Supporters of the bill to create the program tell NBC25 News it can help the district grow, and students in Flint say it would motivate them to do well in their studies.

"College is expensive nowadays. College ainâ??t cheap so a scholarship is a big plus, said Tashend Williams, High School Junior.

Saginaw became a Promise Zone in 2010. Since then the district has seen graduation rates at Saginaw High School go from 55% to more than 80%.

Current high school students in Flint say it would change their outlook on their education.

"It would make me apply myself more, put more effort into it because I know, if I really do good I have a legitimate chance to achieve and do what I need to do to go to college,â?? said Dequindre Fox, High School Senior.

The Flint School District is strapped for cash. Promise Scholarships however could encourage students to stay in school or return to the district. In turn, it would bring in more state revenue.

The scholarships are also funded mostly with private dollars. But Phelps is hoping the state legislature will provide additional funding to help get this program off the ground.

"I believe the momentum is already started and it's going to happen in The City of Flint regardless if this legislation passes or not,â?? said Phelps.

A spokesperson for the Flint School District says Superintendent Larry Watkins is very excited about the proposal.