Promise: Investing in Community

Promise Research Initiative




In 2018, the Upjohn Institute launched a three-year initiative to research how communities can create broadly shared prosperity by helping residents get and keep good jobs.


About the Initiative

This initiative brings together Institute expertise on place-based scholarships and local labor market issues, including economic development policies such as tax incentives and customized business services. We take a holistic approach to examining the strategies communities can deploy on both the supply and demand sides of the labor market, and the institutional supports necessary to create vibrant local economies that distribute gains widely.


In this effort, the Institute benefits from growing linkages between its research and operations activities. The Institute administers federal and state workforce training programs in a four-county region in Southwest Michigan and advises communities throughout the nation on best practices in areas such as economic development, talent development, and the design of place-based scholarships.

The Institute also collaborates with the Kalamazoo Promise, the first of the current generation of place-based scholarships, and the City of Kalamazoo, which is engaged in innovative place-based development through the Foundation for Excellence and Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo. The Upjohn Institute works with the city and the Kalamazoo Promise around best practices, data systems, and evaluation, and hopes to use lessons learned locally to inform other small- to mid-sized cities facing similar challenges.


The research initiative is led by three co-directors with the support of an internal steering committee and an external policy advisory committee.

Steering Committee

     Timothy J. Bartik (co-director): Senior Economist
     Brad J. Hershbein (co-director): Economist and Director of Information and Communication Services
     Michelle Miller-Adams (co-director): Research Fellow
     Lee Adams: Director, Southcentral Michigan Planning Commission
     Ben Damerow: Director, Employment Management Services Division
     Janelle Grant: Project Coordinator
     Bridget Timmeney: Special Projects Coordinator

Policy Advisory Committee

     John Austin: Director, Michigan Economic Center
     John Bebow: President and CEO, Center for Michigan
     Jeff Chapman: Project Director for Economic Development and State Fiscal Health, The Pew Charitable Trusts
     Carol Coletta: Senior Fellow, Kresge Foundation's American Cities Practice
     Elizabeth Garlow: Impact Investment Officer, Lumina Foundation
     Gilda Z. Jacobs: President and CEO, Michigan League for Public Policy
     Christopher T. King: Lecturer and Senior Research Scientist, LBJ School of Public Affairs' Ray Marshall Center
     Luke Tate: Assistant Vice President and Executive Director, Opportunity Initiatives, Arizona State University
     Yolanda Townsend: Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Opportunity@Work