The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise, the first scholarship program of its kind in Texas, may fund two years at Tyler Junior College for the top 50 percent of qualifying Rusk High School graduates.
The new initiative, announced during Thursday's TJC board meeting, begins with the Rusk High School graduating class of 2014. The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise covers $4,000 per year (for two years) for each qualifying student who graduates in the top half of the class.
Funded by gifts and pledges from Citizens 1st Bank, The Perkins Family Foundation, and others, the program is a partnership between TJC, the TJC Foundation, Rusk ISD, Citizens 1st Bank and The Perkins Family Foundation.
"We couldn't be more pleased to be a part of this historic first for Tyler Junior College and for the state of Texas," TJC President Dr. Mike Metke said.
"Thanks to the continued leadership and generosity of Citizens 1st Bank and The Perkins Family Foundation, The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise will improve the lives of countless students and their families for years to come."
Currently, there are 22 "Promise" programs nationwide, including the Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan, the El Dorado Promise in Arkansas, and the Pittsburgh Promise in Pennsylvania.
Studies of Promise programs have shown marked improvement in schools, including increased enrollment and retention, higher test scores and graduation rates, and have created a college-going culture among students, with more enrolling in college after high school.
The program's success also extends to the community at large, with an economic boom created by more families relocating to Promise communities.
"We are fortunate to partner with the nation's best junior college – Tyler Junior College – and announce this life-changing, economic engine for the Rusk community," said James I. Perkins, Citizens 1st Bank president and chairman of the board. "We believe that other communities will be inspired to start similar Promise programs and help future generations through education."