Like proud Olympic champions, a group of Greenwood kindergartners bowed their heads to receive a special medallion placed around their necks on a sunny fall day at a Greenwood High School athletic field.
The Promise Day Celebration in 2016 officially introduced the Greenwood Promise to the community and reinforced the medallion’s inscribed message that “You can go to college. We promise.”
“We decided, in fact, to present all kindergarten kids in the county with the medallion that first year at various school events with parents and grandparents in attendance,” said Ron Millender, one of the core group of community and business leaders that conceived of the Greenwood Promise and now serves as its Board chairman. “We wanted the families to understand that their kids really could go to college. It’s not an impossible dream. We are working to change that narrative.”
Establishing a clear, affordable path to college certainly increased the likelihood of graduating seniors from high school enrolling in college. Millender noted that, before 2017, Greenwood County consistently lagged 8% to 10% behind the state average in high school graduates enrolling in college, according to statewide data. “For the class of 2019, we were 5% above the state average!”