Community and school step up to support teen denied Kalamazoo Promise scholarship

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — When Zaviona Woodruff went to bed last night she saw on FOX 17’s Facebook page that hundreds of people had seen her story. Thursday morning, more than 30,000 people saw it, including an official at Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

“You have been the talk of Oakland University,” said the school’s media relations director Brian Bierley over the phone.

Zaviona smiled and said “I’m already famous and I haven’t gotten there yet.”

Wednesday FOX 17 aired Zavonia’s story that she was denied the Kalamazoo Promise one week before graduation in May. She met all the requirements for the free college tuition scholarship: attended a Kalamazoo Public School from kindergarten through 12th grade and lived in the district. However in 2016, she, her sisters and her father  became homeless. They lived in a shelter for a few months and later moved to a housing complex on Gull Road. Initially, she said they were told that their new home was in  Kalamazoo. Later, they learned it was actually in Comstock Township and that the KPS district line was across the street. Thus, she was denied the Promise.

“This story popped up about you and the trouble you were having with the Kalamazoo Promise,” Bierley said during the phone conversation. “I watched it this morning, early,  and it kind of touched me. So I said you know we need to try and help this young woman.”

Bierley said he immediately forwarded her story to many people on campus including the admission director, financial aid director and vice president of student affairs.

“Now even the president of Oakland University has been included in the conversation,” he said. “She has taken a personal interest in you.”

Zaviona beamed. Bierley said they’re currently looking for  scholarships and financial assistance for her. They’ve even shared her GoFundMe page to many on campus.

“I love this,” she said during an interview after the phone call. “I love that people want to help.”

Hundreds of people already did. Thursday morning her GoFundMe page raised only a couple hundred dollars. By evening, it reached over $7,000. She and her family were overwhelmed with emotion.

“Thank you,” said her father Cecil smiling. “I’d like to shake your hands, hug you because this is something we definitely would not have been able to do by ourselves.”


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  • C

    On the one hand is say fine, but on the other hand it’s sending the wrong message. Go ahead, if you break the rules, someone will be there to bail you out. If this girl’s GPA is an accurate measurement, there are more alternative options these days than in the past that she should explore like grants and scholarships

    • Corey Jenkins

      “Go ahead, if you break the rules, someone will be there to bail you out”, That is really your takeaway from all of this? They were homeless and did the best they could. “break the rules?” She attended all of the required years. During hard times they ended up across the street from the school district temporarily. And your takeaway is “if you break the rules”? What is wrong with you? What honestly is wrong with you. So all of the kids who didn’t end up homeless and put in half the effort should get the promise money, but one of the ones who clearly worked hard should be saddled with loans and debt because of a situation out of her control. That is a tremendous attitude that completely misses the point. Seriously, your way of thinking is why this country has the problems it does. And I bet I can guess what you list your religion as who you voted for.

      • C

        Corey, I feel badly for her, especially when she’s not at fault. But, there are enough alternative ways that her education can be funded, and your comment is an illustration of that. So why don’t you reach into your pocket for a few bucks and start a fund for her? The point is, though she may be innocent enough, there are a lot of people out there who aren’t, and will take advantage of the system with every excuse under the sun. By the way, it’s none of your damn business who I voted for, and you might be surprised if you did. And your lecturing me speaks volumes about you and your character. Oh, and finally, when you start your donations pool, don’t start a “Go fund me” page, because I believe there administration fee totals about 5% of the monies collected.

  • Augster

    She’s glad that Oakland University is stepping up to help. Did you notice that they’re not willing to pitch in a dime of THEIR money. It’s always easy to help people with other people’s money. The Left will not do it any other way.

  • Carrie Ott

    So incredible happy for this beautiful young woman and her family. On a side note….does anyone else see the word “pooping” in this write-up? I think it meant to read “popping”. :)

    • Me myself I

      Why not? You get coverage in everything you people do. Especially when it’s mass shooting or pedophilia. Stop being bitter, inbred idiot

    • Me myself I


      Why not? You get coverage in everything you people do. Especially when it’s mass sho oting or pedophi lia. Stop being bitter, inb red id iot

    • Debra Wooten

      May I ask where did this issue become a “black and white” issue. Whoever is administering the Kalamazoo Promise should weigh in on this issue. More importantly, whoever established the Kalamazoo Promise should be contacted and notified about this situation. We are all just a few paychecks away from being homeless but for the grace of God, go we. Where is humanity, where is empathy, where is compassion in this situation? I attended and graduated from WMU and still have friends there and I am very familiar with the apartment complex mentioned. The adults in this whole matter should be ashamed of themselves. This young lady persevered and graduation from the KPS system. What has become of America? This sh– starts from the top and you know what I mean.

  • Rosalie novar

    This is a problem for many. The east side Comstock School and Kalamazoo Public School boundary cannot be determined by logic or common sense. One side of the street may be one and across the street it is the other school district. Unless it occurs to you to check on it a family under pressure simply takes the next affordable option available and only finds out after they have paid a security deposit and first and last month’s rent that they have totally inadvertently switched school districts and given up the Promise.
    This should be grounds for an exception if they find a new place as soon as they can afford to move. Also this needs to be sign posted or publicized so apartment hunters know where the boundaries are. Or better yet, redraw the boundaries so they are more logical. Many people have been caught in this dilemma.
    Rosalie N.

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