POLICY BRIEF: Promise Design Matters: A Review of The Degree Project

POLICY BRIEF: Promise Design Matters: A Review of The Degree Project

In recent years, the free college or “College Promise” movement has seen tremendous momentum at the local and state level. In the face of rising college costs, mounting student debt, and an ever-growing demand for an educated workforce, it is no surprise that Promise programs have found supporters in over 300 communities in 44 states all across the US. As the number of Promise programs continues to grow, there’s a demand for effective research and evaluation on postsecondary outcomes in order to inform best practices and program design for Promise programs.

In order to research the effectiveness of Promise scholarships at improving college access and success, Great Lakes Higher Education’s foundation, now the Ascendium Education Group, partnered with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to establish The Degree Project (TDP), a College Promise program designed as a randomized control trial study with longitudinal data. The trial was carried out by a team of researchers lead by Dr. Douglas N. Harris of Tulane University. Great Lakes committed $31 million to provide eligible Milwaukee students with up to $12,000 each for post-secondary education at an approved two- or four-year colleges in Wisconsin.

Download this policy brief to learn more about the importance of Promise program design, as demonstrated by the results of Milwaukee’s Degree Project.


Anjana Venkatesan currently serves as Senior Policy and Research Advisor at the College Promise Campaign where she advances the Campaign’s goal of promoting research-driven best practices for Promise Programs around the country. Her work includes the development and expansion of the College Promise Research Network which aims to facilitate information sharing among Promise researchers and connect researchers with program practitioners in order to improve Promise Programs and help ensure student success.

Ms. Venkatesan received her bachelor’s degree as well as a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Alabama. She previously served as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center.

Related posts

POLICY BRIEF: How Harper College Established Its Promise

Continue reading

California College Promise Project – The College Promise Guidebook for California and Beyond

Continue reading

POLICY BRIEF: What Can States Learn from Local College Promise Programs?

Continue reading

Join The Discussion

Take Action!

Join the movement for free community college.