Rockford Promise + Excelsior Awards + You!

By Kaylene Groh, Executive Director

We were so honored to be nominated for the prestigious Excelsior Award, along with Hoo Haven and this year’s recipient, The Golden Apple Foundation. Our congratulations go out to both organizations, and to all of the staff and volunteers working tirelessly to make our community a better place to live, work and play. Further, our thanks goes to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Rockford Register Star, and Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence for bringing back this wonderful event once again. 

While we’re so honored to be named an Excelsior finalist in 2023, the true acknowledgment and thanks go out to the many groups and individuals who have worked for almost two decades building Rockford Promise to where it is today.  The success we’ve seen to date is because of the selfless work and dedication of a whole host of people who envision a compelling future for our students, our families, our businesses, and our beloved city.  To you, we say THANK YOU!! 

Thank you to our donors, both public and private, including the City of Rockford and countless individuals and organizations. Because of your generosity, we’ve awarded nearly 500 full-tuition scholarships to date;

To our educational partners including RPS205, Rockford University, Rock Valley College, and Northern Illinois University, who have linked arms and donated space, time and dollars to see mutual, increased outcomes on behalf of our local students. And we are seeing results:

– Rockford Promise Scholars at Rockford University have a graduation rate of 92%. National average? 47%.

– Rockford Promise Scholars at RVC? Graduating in three years at 3x the national average.

– Northern Illinois University? While our initial cohort is currently in the midst of its junior year, Rockford Promise Scholars at NIU are persisting, staying in school semester-to-semester, at a rate 8 percentage points higher than any other group of students on their campus.

To our mentors and volunteers, who devote time to guide first-year Scholars on their academic journey, your devotion to these students and their futures doesn’t go unnoticed;

To our staff and board members, who have provided invaluable guidance and strategic insight, steering our organization with wisdom and foresight. Each of them has brought a unique set of skills and talents to the table, contributing to a vibrant and dynamic workplace that fosters success.

Since 2006, Rockford Promise has followed a bold vision.  Our founders envisioned a city that dared to ask of itself, “What if?”  What if we could offer every graduate of our local public schools the encouragement, mentorship, and financial support necessary to earn a college degree? 

To their vision, and with your help, together we have accomplished the following seemingly impossible growth:

365 students in college right now across our three partner campuses;

35 Mentors who selflessly devote hours of their time to coach students; 

10 full- and part-time staff members, dedicated to empowering students to get to and through college.

Rockford Promise is growing and we’re proud to play a role in the transformation of our community. 

But the work doesn’t stop here. Opportunity still exists for additional scholarships at Rock Valley College, where we received 160 applications in 2023, and had 25 scholarships to offer. Opportunities exist in connecting our increasingly larger cohorts of graduates with competitive employment opportunities right here in our region, meeting the needs of graduates and employers both. Opportunity exists in continuing to share the possibilities of Rockford Promise for local students and families throughout the community, so they can match dreams with plans for the future. 

If you are someone who wants to leave a legacy in this community, join us. Join us in this important work because we are not done, and we cannot do it alone. However you choose to do it, and however it works best for you, join us. There is a space and a place for you in this work.

Be a donor.


Be a mentor

Host an internship.

Be an advocate.  Share our posts. Tell your friends. 

We added links to the above so you could instantly take the next step of action.  Please don’t wait.  2024 is the year where you help us to the next pinnacle of success, and we couldn’t be more excited to view this vista together with you, along with all of the students and families you’ve impacted because of your action.  

Thank you, and Happy Holidays!