Sonoma State and Petaluma City Schools Announce Visionary ‘Promise’ program

Transformational ‘Promise’ initiative empowers local students to prepare for college admission as early as junior high
December 16, 2022
Sonoma State University Interim President Mike Lee and Petaluma City Schools Superintendent Matthew

Sonoma State University Interim President Mike Lee and Petaluma City Schools Superintendent Matthew Harris sign a "Promise" agreement.

ROHNERT PARK  – University leaders at Sonoma State and the Petaluma City Schools District finalized a new and transformational “Promise” program this week that will guarantee students in Petaluma schools admission to SSU by meeting certain basic requirements.

The signing of the “Promise” memorandum between Petaluma City Schools and Sonoma State was finalized on Tuesday evening at the Petaluma City Schools board meeting, and will empower students to begin the qualification process for admission to Sonoma State as early as junior high.

"This is truly transformational,” said Sonoma State University Interim President Mike Lee. “Imagine going to a 7th grader and their parents offering them guaranteed admissions to Sonoma State University. Very few universities in the nation have this type of guaranteed admissions for junior high school students. Even fewer universities and school districts have these partnerships or willingness to work together to better serve their communities. This agreement could significantly increase the number of students from Petaluma going to a university. But just as important, it would ensure that as Sonoma State increases in enrollment, these students would be secured a spot at Sonoma State University.”

While the pandemic years caused a decline in enrollment at Sonoma State University and other higher education institutions, SSU is now experiencing an increase in applications, deposits, and enrollments as the pandemic ends and students think again about their college choices.

“We are thrilled to start this partnership with Petaluma City Schools,” said Sonoma State University’s Provost, Karen Moranski. “The Promise program will not only help Sonoma State reach our strategic enrollment goals – it also underscores our commitment to providing equal access to higher education to those right here in our local community.”

The ‘Promise’ program, which emphasizes meeting requirements such as a minimum grade point average upon graduation from  high school and minimum entry requirements for the CSU, is received as a game-changing process for students and families who often view applications to universities as intimidating or out of reach. Sonoma State is reaching out across the county and the broader service region to create pathways for junior high and high school students to ensure SSU is within reach of students who want to go to college.

“Not only is this great for those students who choose to attend Sonoma State,” Petaluma City Schools Superintendent Matthew Harris told the Argus-Courier, “it also raises the bar as far as what we will expect from students upon entering in 9th grade, and will help us develop a more university prep mindset."