The Kalamazoo Promise helped revive a Rust Belt town. It holds lessons for other cities.
KALAMAZOO, MICH.—Tracy Zarei has wanted to teach children ever since she was in the second grade. She knew she would have to go to college to become a teacher.
“She was a straight-A student,” says her mother, Sheri, who was working double shifts in a nursing home to pay rent on their mobile home. “She cried when she got her first B.”
Then one day Tracy’s world shifted. When her mother returned home from work, Tracy handed her a note. “She said, ‘Mom, you’re going to be disappointed,’ ” recalls Sheri, who thought it must be a traffic ticket. Instead it was a positive pregnancy test. Antonio Jr. was born in March 2005. Tracy was a junior in high school.