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About Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS) has been helping local students prepare for life after high school for more than 30 years.

In 1990, four community members came together with a common mission to help local students at Willow Run High School see what was possible after they walked across the stage as high school graduates. By taking trips to campuses like the University of Detroit Mercy, these few members began to make a difference and inspire students to dream bigger for their futures. As time went on, students were excited to head to post-secondary education, but weren’t sure how to navigate the cost.

In 1995 the organization joined forces with the nation’s largest scholarship provider, Scholarship America, becoming Willow Run/Ypsilanti Dollars for Scholars. This partnership granted the organization a 501(c)3 status and allowed them to begin raising funds and giving out scholarships to the students they worked with.

In 2012, those same committed neighbors realized that they wanted to make a larger impact throughout the Southeast Michigan region, and created a plan to expand, renaming themselves Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars.

With so many schools participating, the academic support program was able to grow and take shape. Starting in 10th grade, students participated in a full schedule of trips and activities in order to learn exactly what it would take to prepare for post-secondary education. In 11th and 12th grade, students’ dreams of college became real as they toured campuses, talked with admissions staff, learned about majors, and received acceptance letters.

In order to better complement the DRDFS scholarship program, the academic support program earned its own name in 2019, and is now known as the Next Level Scholars™ program. With this program at the forefront, our Detroit chapter of Dollars for Scholars became the first chapter nationally to be awarded the Scholarship America Honors Award. DRDFS was proud to receive this great award next to the scholarship programs of Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola.

Today, we serve almost 450 students in Southeast Michigan annually. We partner with 16 schools across Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. DRDFS has awarded scholarships exceeding $3 million to more than 1,700 students since 1990, and our alumni network grows each year.

DRDFS is proud of the students and supporters who have helped us get to where we are today. After more than 30 years, we have accomplished a lot, but still have work to do. We are looking forward to many more years of partnering with those who share our passion of helping local students succeed.


Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars strives to promote a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We value differences in experiences, perspectives, and identities, including but not limited to ethnicity, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, gender identity, and disability status.

The need for post-secondary education applies equally to all students, and since its inception, DRDFS has focused support efforts to ensure students from all backgrounds have equitable access to higher education.


Without Dollars for Scholars’ college visits I would have never seen a college campus or experienced what college life would be like.
Daniel, Class of 2019

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars is proud to partner with MCAN to work toward the shared goal of 60% college attainment by 2030.

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