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La Crosse Scholarship Program Aims To Improve Neighborhoods While Supporting Education

Initiative Would Repay Homebuilding Costs With Scholarship Funds

Mark Danielson (CC-BY-NC)

More details are unfolding about how a place-based scholarship program could help improve the housing in some areas of La Crosse. The program is called the La Crosse Promise.

If a family builds a home or significantly remodels one in certain La Crosse neighborhoods and pledges to live in that house for at least five years, the family could receive up to $50,000 in scholarships for their children. The money could be used at any Wisconsin university, technical college, or trade school.

But families can’t apply for the funding just yet. La Crosse Promise organizers said they need to raise $1.5 million to get the scholarship program rolling. They hope to work with 30 families the first year.

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La Crosse County Community Development Specialist Brian Fukuda introduced the idea to area leaders. He said it can help improve housing and attract people to La Crosse.

“Really when you look at the people you want to bring into a neighborhood, these are people that care about education, they care about their kids, they care about their community,” Fukuda said. “This is just a really great match for our community.”

The La Crosse Promise kicked off a few years ago and, so far, has worked to help make it easier for area high school students to move on to postsecondary education. Advisors work with the city’s students, educating them about anything from financial aid to college essays.

The ultimate goal of the La Crosse Promise is to provide a scholarship to every La Crosse high school student, similar to a Michigan program, the Kalamazoo Promise.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the La Crosse Promise organization needed to raise $30 million to start the new scholarship program. That number represents a larger goal. The group is initially looking to raise $1.5 million. The story has been updated.