Rockford Promise is a non-profit 501(c)(3) location-based scholarship program that offers full-tuition scholarships to deserving graduates of Rockford Public School District 205. Modeled after Promise programs around the nation, our goal is to increase educational attainment in our community while providing a powerful economic incentive for residents and businesses to locate in the Rockford region.

Rockford Promise takes it a step further…

We believe that financial barriers are just part of the equation for many students. In addition to full-tuition college scholarships, Rockford Promise also supports our Scholars with robust community mentorships, strong academic advising and meaningful social connections to ensure they earn their degrees and jumpstart successful careers.
What started as a small grassroots effort has developed into a community initiative gaining momentum and support. Our growth has been entirely the result of a tireless commitment from volunteers, the voices of powerful advocates, and the generosity of forward-thinking donors.


Now, away we grow!

Rockford Promise has grown steadily each year, increasing our financial support and the number of Scholars we are able to help send to college. However, the real value in a promise program is realized when we can extend the benefit to all Rockford Public School District 205 graduates. Our vision is to become a fully funded promise program.

A fully funded promise program delivers community-wide benefits which include: 

  • Increased graduation rates and public school performance 
  • Higher educational attainment 
  • Enhanced workforce readiness 
  • Higher property values 
  • Decreased crime rates 
  • Decreased social costs due to increased high school graduation rates 
  • Powerful economic incentives for residents and businesses 

That’s our vision for Rockford! 


Rockford Promise is driven by the passion of powerful community advocates who see the potential and results delivered by promise programs around the nation. In 2006, Dr. John McHugh, a retired physician, read about the amazing potential impact of Kalamazoo Promise in Kalamazoo, MI. A small group of anonymous donors envisioned a transformed community driven by the power of full-tuition scholarships to all graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools. Since the launch of the Promise, Kalamazoo has experienced higher graduation rates, college enrollment rates, property values and population growth. What if Rockford could replicate the modelWithin weeks, Dr. McHugh convinced others to join him to start raising money and sharing the potential of Rockford Promise.


Formation of first Board of Directors, filing of Articles of Incorporation and IRS 501c (3) application.


From 2007- 2015, Rockford Promise granted partial scholarships to more than 50 graduates of the Rockford Public Schools.


In 2015, Rockford Promise formed the powerful collaborations with our higher education partners, Rockford University and Rock Valley College.


In 2016, five full-tuition scholarships were awarded. While other college scholarships are helpful, Rockford Promise is committed to transformative efforts. It did so by making sure its scholarships would cover the full cost of tuition – fully removing the financial barrier to higher education.


In 2017, that number grew to 10.


In 2018, it became 22. Rockford Promise also developed a one-on-one mentoring program for Scholars to support student success and enhance degree completion.


In 2019, 31 Scholars received full-tuition scholarships.


In 2020, 30 Scholars received full-tuition scholarships. We hired Rockford Promise college graduate Alondra Torres to join our staff as the Scholar & Mentor Coordinator.


The momentum is exciting, but this is just the beginning. Rockford Promise to committed to maintaining its growth momentum until it is able to reach fully-funded status and extend the promise to all Rockford Public School graduates and deliver the powerful economic impact to the entire Rockford region.