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Kevin G. Walthers: A promise made, promise kept
Guest Commentary

Kevin G. Walthers: A promise made, promise kept

  • Updated

Dr. Kevin Walthers, Superintendent/President of Allan Hancock College, is to be recognized at the upcoming Community Action Commission 12th annual "Champions Dinner."

Most of us remember when there used to be 104 days of summer vacation, with school starting after Labor Day.

Today, our kids get much less than that, but students heading from high school to Allan Hancock College should be OK with the shortened summer break because they will become part of Hancock’s history.

This fall marks the inaugural class of Hancock Promise students, thanks to our community partners, including the Santa Barbara Foundation, Rabobank and the Allan Hancock College Foundation, among many others. We will cover first-year tuition for any North County student who graduated in 2018.

The goal of Hancock Promise is not just to make college affordable, it is also to get students on a path to graduation, transfer and a high-paying job. We know students who attend college directly after high school are more likely to graduate. Those who attend full-time are even more likely to graduate. Those who take English and math have even higher success rates.

The Promise program is built on that concept, requiring students who accept the support to take at least 12 hours of classes each semester, and to sign up for an English and math course during their first year.

The early results are astounding: Student registration from high school students is up more than 60 percent compared to the same time frame last year. Enrollment from each of the nine largest high schools in our district is up by at least 37 percent, and enrollment from more than half of the schools jumped by at least 73 percent.

More importantly, of the 1,400 students enrolling from local high schools, more than 1,300 are Promise students. This means 90 percent of our first-time students from local schools have already completed their financial-aid application, attended an orientation, and met with a counselor to develop a personalized student education plan.

Our community investment in this program is minimal, just $1,200 per student is all that is needed. However, for many, if not most of our students, that $1,200 is a daunting amount. It would be hard to find an expenditure of this size that will have a more lasting impact.

College graduates have higher lifetime incomes, fewer impacts on social services, and are more likely to engage in community-building activities. In essence, the Hancock Promise is building the next generation of volunteers, service leaders and board members for our local organizations. The support of our community and our Promise partners is making this a reality.

The Hancock Promise is an investment in the future of northern Santa Barbara County. We are excited to welcome the first cohort of Promise students later this month as they start their journey on a path full of promise.

Kevin G. Walthers is superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College. For more information about the Hancock Promise, visit .


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