I recently visited Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I learned about a very successful program called “The Kalamazoo Promise.”

The concept is simple: Every student who attends the Kalamazoo Public Schools from kindergarten through senior year and graduates receives a full scholarship for any public or private university in Michigan where he or she is accepted. All costs, tuition, books, fees, are covered. For those who attend the KPS schools for four years of high school, 65% of tuition is covered.

The donor or donors are anonymous. They do not seek recognition or honor.

The effects of the Promise have been impressive. Enrollment in KPS, which had been declining before the Promise was launched in 2005, has increased by 25%. A pre-kindergarten program has been adopted by the schools. Students are working purposefully, knowing that they can win a debt-free college education if they persist. Parents, teachers, and the community are collaborating around the goal of student success. The Promise is available to students for two-year colleges, trade schools, or four-year colleges. It can be used at any point for ten years after graduation.

When I spoke in Seattle, I recommended that someone in the audience tell Bill Gates about the Kalamazoo Promise. It is far more successful and appreciated than any of his interventions into education. Without breaking a sweat, Bill Gates could launch the Washington State Promise and guarantee every high school graduate in the state a debt-free college education. Instead of being a goat for sinking billions into test-based teacher evaluation (which failed), Common Core (the reform that dare not speak its name), and charter schools (which are highly controversial and often ineffectual), he would be universally praised for making postsecondary education available at no cost to all high school graduates in the state. Washington State has no income taxes and no corporate taxes. This would be a swell way to give back.

For all those billionaires out there looking for a sound way to invest in education, explore the Kalamazoo Promise. We know that more and more students need a postsecondary education to succeed in the twenty-first century, and we know that the cost of that education burdens students with intolerable debt. Stepping in to aid students to reach that dream is a win-win.