GUEST COMMENTARY: Consider replicating College Bound program

CATEGORY: College Bound, News

Guest commentary by Linda Woloshansky, president and CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations and the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board
Original article here.

Last month at their annual conference, the U.S. Conference of Mayors awarded Hammond a 2016 City Livability award for its College Bound program.

It’s so refreshing to discover something in life that is true to its promise. That “something” is Hammond’s College Bound program. College Bound offers scholarships that can offset tuition and other classroom expenses for Hammond residents by as much as $10,500 a year.

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott started the program in 2006. College Bound is available to families that own a home within the city’s boundaries and is renewable for four years as long as the recipient continues to meet the set criteria.

A decade later, more than 1,500 College Bound students are attending an Indiana university or college. Many others already have graduated. College Bound is the perfect antidote for that pesky affliction known as “brain drain.”

When I ask employers of the Region what they seek in job applicants, dependable and reliable are two of the qualities they cite time and again.

Well-intended programs come and go. College Bound isn’t going away. Already, the Hammond City Council and McDermott have agreed to keep the program in place for another 10 years.

College Bound has produced an outcome originally envisioned. Several College Bound graduates are now buying homes in Hammond even though they are not required to do so.

Matt Muta, 28, was among the first students offered a College Bound scholarship. He graduated from Purdue with a degree in civil engineering. As he was searching for a home in the Region, he looked at several communities but settled on Hammond.

“We have great tax and water rates, and our city services are top shelf. I am very happy with my decision to stay in Hammond, and across the street from my Mom, Dad and Grandma.”

Hammond should be proud of its 10-year College Bound program. Perhaps it’s time for other cities in the Region to consider replicating it.