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Detroit Compact: changing young lives; The Chamber's pioneering program makes a college education a viable option for DPS students.

The Detroit Compact program administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber for more than 17 years demonstrates how much can be accomplished when business leaders invest their time and resources in education.



The Compact guarantees any graduate of a Detroit Public Schools high school (excluding examination schools) who meets specified standards a four-year college education with all tuition and fees paid. This guarantee is the result of a $9 million endowment established by the Chamber and managed by the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan.

Each year an average of 150 DPS graduates meets the Compact's standards and enters college with this guarantee. There are approximately 500 students in college with Compact support at any one time.

For alumni like Tobi D. Brown and Lloyd L. Banks III, the Detroit Compact experience was life changing.

As a straight-A student and class valedictorian at Mackenzie High School, Tobi Brown participated in several aspects of the Compact program, including a summer internship at IBM in Southfield after her senior year in 1996. This opened the doors for two subsequent internships after her freshman year at the University of Michigan and sophomore year at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Brown graduated from GWU in 2000 with a BBA in Information Systems. Now 28, she works for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in Washington as assistant director of Convention Research & Registration, Industry Affairs.

"The greatest impact the program made on my life as a student was establishing high standards for achievement and providing a structured program that rewarded academic excellence," Brown recalls.

Lloyd Banks was introduced to the Compact program in 1991 during his senior year at Western High School, now Western International High School. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) was the business partner at Western that year.

After successfully completing the Compact program, Banks faced a big decision when he graduated in 1992. Since he already had the scholarships he needed for college, he chose to earn extra money by taking a summer employment program at BCBSM.

A BCBSM vice president was so impressed with Banks that he asked him to continue working part time during college. Banks initially pursued a pre-med program at Wayne State University but decided to go the business route and switched to Central Michigan University, graduating with a degree in business administration in 2000.

In the meantime, BCBSM hired Banks full time in 1998 even before he had earned his degree. Now 32, he has been manager of community affairs at BCBSM for the past 3 1/2 years and credits his Compact experience for setting him on the path to success.
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Title Annotation:FEATURES; Detroit public schools
Date:Mar 1, 2007
Previous Article:Principal for a Day: check out this program that takes business leaders from the boardroom to the classroom.
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