HOPE Toledo Promise Makes Postsecondary Education a Reality

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”—Nelson Mandela.

We know that the cycle of generational poverty can be greatly improved with education. However, equitable access to quality education is not a reality for so many adults and young adults in our community — until now. 

Toledo native is founder of HOPE Toledo Promise 

Peter Kadens and the Kadens Family Foundation launched HOPE Toledo Promise in 2020. Hope stands for Helping Our Population Educate. The 2020, 2021, and 2022 graduating classes from Jesup W. Scott High School have been offered the opportunity to attend any state college in Ohio or trade school for up to 4.5 years. Tuition, room and board, books and fees are covered for the students. This program is the first of its kind in the country because it is a multigenerational program, meaning one parent or guardian of every participating graduate may also attend school for free. 

Mr. Kadens resides in Chicago, IL and Rev. John C. Jones is the current president and CEO of HOPE Toledo Promise. According to Rev. Jones, approximately 56 percent of the students have taken advantage of this program. He is optimistic that the recent Northwestern University Two-Generation Research Initiative will show the community that this program is making a difference, and the participation numbers are going up, as is the persistence rate.  Support for the program not only comes from the Kadens Family Foundation, but also the American Rescue plan, as well as organizations and businesses throughout the community. 

Support services ensure student success

“We like to say it is a low bar of entry [to the program],” said Rev. Jones.  He notes that once the students are in the program, attending college, and utilizing the wrap-around services, they perform much better in college than in high school and maintain much higher GPAs. Offering students a variety of support services greatly improves their success. 

Services may include a community and family navigator who connects with kids and makes sure they are taking care of what they need to in school. It may also be tutoring or remaining in touch with university success coaches to ensure they are working with those students. Having an “accountability partner” makes a huge difference for the students. 

“We believe, if given the right wrap-around services and other support, many children can have success,” said Rev. Jones. Students who may be the first in their family to attend college may especially benefit from the one-on-one coaching in matters related to mental health, financial literacy, or even ways to take advantage of all college has to offer with student life and activities. 

Community support 

HOPE Toledo Promise is under the umbrella of HOPE Toledo, which also includes HOPE Toledo Pre-K. The idea of “cradle to career” is to ensure children have a strong start to their educational careers and that it continues into post-secondary education. The need remains for financial support from the community as a whole, as well as the area businesses and organizations to keep this program sustainable. 

A program like this ensures a more educated workforce, stronger communities, and a break in the cycle of generational poverty. It’s a win-win for everyone. For more information on the program, or to donate, visit hope-toledo.org .