Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary
Promise Program



In 2018 the Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary Club (CTSR) formed the Sunrise Rotary Project Team with a purpose to develop a regional Promise Project. This Promise Project is modeled on 300+ projects across the U.S. and nearly 25 started in Michigan. Each Promise Project is unique, tailored to the distinctive needs of the local region.

The goal of the CTSR Promise Project:

  • Make post-high school education more affordable
  • Increase the number of people seeking post-high school education/training
  • Improve the success rate of program completions
  • Decrease student debt rates in the region

CTSR Club and the Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary Foundation (CTSRF) board launched the Promise program with the initial funding of $15,000 for three years from the club and $5,000 for five years from the foundation.

Previous to the pandemic, Branch County realized a surge of new & growing business & was currently experiencing 3.6% unemployment rate. Companies and contractors have expressed the need for specific skills to fill their open positions. After significant research of the shortage of skills it was determined that the Promise Scholarship Project would narrow its focus on two critical needs:

  • Health care professionals: Branch County designated as severely underserved for health care professionals (2000:1 per capita coverage), ranked amongst the lowest in the state and nearly twice the state
  • Skilled trades professionals: Construction & industry is vulnerable by lack of trained skilled trades. Branch County rate of working age residents (age 25-65) that have sought post-high school education of any kind is 14%, again one of the lowest counties in the state and compares to the state average of 45%.

CTSR Club approved the focus & the Sunrise Promise Team began working in partnership with Kellogg Community College (KCC) and its Foundation (KCCF) to develop a platform and unique requirements of the project. The partnership was formalized in Aug, 2019 KCCF and the Sunrise Promise Team announced and launched the KCCF/Sunrise Rotary Promise Scholarship Program with $20,000 expected to be awarded in the first year of the launch. The program covers 14 programs in the Allied Health department and 7 programs in the skilled trade curriculum. For the 2019-20 school year there were 24 applicants of the approximately 70 students registered in these programs.  The selection team awarded 19 scholarships to Branch County residents and/or graduates of Branch County high schools ranging from $500-2000 and totaling $20,000.

  • 15 enrolled in nursing programs
  • 2 in other allied health programs
  • 2 in skilled trade programs

KCCF partnering with Sunrise Rotary Promise Program has increased interest and assistance for Branch County students to $80,000, approximately a 30% increase from prior years.

Model of Sustainability:

The Promise Team working with KCCF to build on the first-year launch, has developed a three-phase strategy to insure sustainability of the important impact to our region.

  • Phase 1 (years 1-3): CTSR and CTSRF and in partnership with KCCF fund the Sunrise Rotary Promise Scholarship Program with $20,000 for three
  • Phase 2 (years 4-5): With CTSRF contribution of $5,000 for years 4-5, the Promise Team needs to identify community partners to step into the role to help fund $15,000 in each year. The Promise Team recently met with the Trustees of the Thomas Bott Donor Advised Fund. The Trustees (members include Presidents of SMB&T & CB&T) approved the donation of $60,000 from the Trust to directly fund the health care scholarships for a four-year period ($15,000/year). A public release of this significant step termed a “Cornerstone Partner” was issued the week of April 13, 2020. This generous gift guarantees that the Promise scholarships will be directly funded for the next six years extending the path to accomplish Phase 3 of the sustainability model.
  • Phase 3 (Endowment & Long-Term Funding):

In late 2018 the Promise Endowment Fund was created with the support of private donations. In 2019 the Promise Project Team announced an initiative to widen the Rotary family support for the Promise Project across the five regional Rotary Clubs.

CTSR Club member George Babcoke and his wife Kathie committed $25,000. The match was doubled by the contribution of $25,000 by the Hal and Lillian Creal family (Hal was a founding member of the CTSR Club).  This created a double match challenge open to Rotary members across the county. With support from all five of the Branch County Rotary Clubs the double match challenge raised approximately $35,000 to achieve the year 1 goal of $100,000.

The team’s 2020 objective was to identify four “Keystone” business partners to create:

  • 2020 – 2022: $100,000 public match campaign over the next two years to reach $300,000 for the Promise Endowment Fund.
  • 2022 – 2026: $500,000 goal for the Promise Endowment Fund

Three critical local businesses have committed to be “Keystone Partners” for the 2020/2021 public match campaign, each contributing $25,000. ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital joins Southern Michigan Bank & Trust and Century Bank and Trust as Keystone Partners. The team continues to recruit one additional business partner for the Keystone Partner program, however the match program has begun and any dollar contributed is already being matched.

In the past few weeks the Promise Team has launched a membership program to promote multi-year giving.  This initiative provides donors the opportunity to join the effort at whatever level they are able to support.                                                                                            

Online giving is now also available at

 Current Status (October 2020)

 The Promise Endowment Fund has now reached the $200,000 mark or 40% of the 5 year goal. While this is a significant accomplishment, meeting with potential donors has been difficult during the ongoing pandemic. We need to recruit more Ambassadors to promote the newly established Promise Membership Program to keep up the momentum towards achieving the $500,000 goal for the Promise Endowment and guarantee the sustainability of the Sunrise Promise Scholarship Program.

Recently the Promise Scholarship selection committee met virtually to complete the selection process for year two and selected 22 awardees for the scholarships for the 2020/2021 academic year. Those awards are currently being finalized and a joint media release by the Sunrise Promise Team and the Kellogg Community College Foundation is forthcoming. Of the 22 awards, 8 of the awardees are return awardees from the first year Promise Scholarship Program. It is also important to note that 8 of the awardees from the first year of the program completed their programs and/or degrees at KCC during the 2019/2020 academic year.

Anyone needing more information, wanting to get involved, become a Promise Ambassador or wanting to donate can contact Jon Harpst at (517) 202-7849.

Club Leaders
Weekly Bulletin
Promise Program Fundraising Status