Nightly News   |  June 13, 2013

Fueled by a promise, Michigan students dream big

Funded by anonymous donors, the “Kalamazoo Promise” in Michigan is one of the most generous scholarship programs in America, offering full rides to graduating seniors who start as kindergarteners. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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>>> as students and parents across the country worry about paying for college, it's worth looking at the experience of looking at one city where everyone who graduates from high school gets a scholarship. it's about money, yes, but also about dreams and tonight's making a difference report. from john yang in michigan.

>> reporter: shannon wie graduated from kalamazoo 's roy norris high school with 70% of her tuition paid. 95% of her tuition at the university of michigan paid. since 2005 , every student who spends four years in a kalamazoo public high school graduates with at least 65% of their public college tuition.

>> that is the greatest.

>> funded by anonymous donors, the kalamazoo promise is one of the most generous scholarships. full ride for those who start kindergarten. jade hubbard who wants to study science or technology will be the first in her family to go to college.

>> it affected my grades, how i acted, because i knew i would have a future.

>> reporter: the program has paid $44 million for 2,800 students. the money will never end.

>> you still want to be a doctor?

>> reporter: michael weiss , superintendent of schools.

>> it can't come for free. students have to earn it every day.

>> reporter: students stepping up. enrollment in advanced placement classes, reading and math test scores and graduation rates, all on the rise and starting early. these third graders have big dreams .

>> i want to be an engineer.

>> i want to be a police officer .

>> young zach julian had dreams too. he will study engineering at wayne state university . his tuition fully paid.

>> i just need to do well. i can't let the people down.

>> reporter: even though you don't know who they?

>> i can't let them down. even though i don't know who they are.

>> reporter: donors providing the money and motivations to make dreams come true . kalamazoo , michigan.