Charity Spotlight: Lansing Promise

Encouraging students to graduate high school and pursue post-secondary education.

The Lansing Promise provides higher education scholarships to the children of Lansing. These scholarships inspire kids to graduate, attend college, and develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed. The Lansing Promise firmly believes that when the children of a community succeed, the community will flourish.

In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Executive Director of the Lansing Promise, Justin Sheehan.

Origin Story

In 2009, ten districts in Michigan with a higher-than-average number of children living below the federal poverty level were identified. The State of Michigan sought to improve the quality of life for children in these districts by providing higher education opportunities at little or no cost. These opportunities would encourage children to graduate from high school and pursue careers that would have a lasting, positive impact on themselves, their family, and their community.

Legislation was introduced to transform these districts into Promise Zones and offer scholarships to students who completed their high school education within those zones.

The Lansing School District was one such district, and the Lansing Promise was established to help its children.


Any student who lives in a Lansing School District and completes their 9th- through 12th-grade education at a public or private Lansing High School may apply for the Lansing Promise scholarship online after they have completed their FAFSA. The scholarship covers up to 65 credits at Lansing Community College or the financial equivalent at Michigan State University.

The Lansing Promise is also a strong advocate of the separately-managed Lansing SAVE (an educational savings program) and the HOPE Scholarship. These three programs provide financial options for children of all grades, kindergarten through 12th.

If a student needs more than financial support, the Lansing Promise will engage other organizations in Lansing that can provide help. These organizations work together to improve the lives of children by offering academic assistance, social and emotional support, school counseling, career advice, and other basic needs.

Big Wins

Between 2012 and 2016, 425 students have used the Lansing Promise. Of those, 86% who studied at MSU have stayed with the program. Similarly, 74% who attended LCC stayed with it. The Lansing Promise has also awarded $400,000 in scholarships this year.

Beyond the numbers, there have also been several important partnerships established to raise awareness of the Lansing Promise to students, parents, and advisors. Regularly spreading the word about the scholarships at school events will go a long way to help more students pursue post-secondary education.


The Lansing Promise hopes to increase college and career attainment for every person in Lansing. More broadly, Justin wants to help kids succeed by giving them the hope and confidence they need to grow. In order to achieve these goals, students and their parents need to know the Lansing Promise exists and it needs to be approachable.

For Nonprofits

If you are considering starting your own nonprofit, Justin recommends starting with some research. Try to first identify a problem or need that is not already being met and figure out how you can help.

Part of your research should also include comparing what you want to do with other nonprofits that are trying to satisfy the same need and deciding if it makes more sense to join forces with someone else before starting something new.

For Volunteers

Research is important when you want to volunteer your time or donate. Even if it’s a simple charity search on GuideStar, make sure you have a basic understanding of an organization and do a gut check before you commit yourself or your money to them.

Get Involved

If you want to learn more about the Lansing Promise, you can reach them by clicking one of the buttons below.

Photographs courtesy of Lansing Promise and Lansing State Journal.