Online Staff Report
State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, is lending his support to a public/private partnership measure aimed at financially supporting area students looking to attend a local college or higher learning institution. This is the first bill on which Cabello is a sponsor to pass the Illinois House of Representatives.
“The economic success of the Rockford-area communities are inextricably tied together,” Cabello said. “It is my hope that I will be able to support more initiatives such as this aimed at enhancing education in our region.”
The measure, House Bill 194, would create a pilot program creating several “promise zones” around the state. Introduced, in part, by state Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford, promise zones are an initiative for which Washington, D.C., has been advocating and which other states, such as our neighbor, Michigan, have implemented. Meant to create awareness in lower-income communities about opportunities for higher education, promise zones grant scholarships to interested high school graduates.
If successful, these promise zones will be created by the city councils of Aurora, East St. Louis and Rockford, and will raise funds from private sources to provide scholarships to students graduating high school within the promise zone. The scholarship will be enough to cover tuition to obtain an associate’s degree or its equivalent at a local community college.
The pilot program is set be repealed Jan. 31, 2018, but advocates of the program hope cities will continue the programs on their own.
“This program will give opportunities to Rockford-area students that they might not otherwise have and at no cost to the state,” said Cabello. “I not only support this bill in its pilot program form, but also the idea of promise zones in general, and I hope other cities and private investors take up the torch and start programs like this in their communities.”
Posted March 4, 2013