Helping local students prepare for life after high school, through scholarships and academic support, to enable post-secondary success.
The turn of the New Year marked an important milestone for Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS); 30 years of helping local students prepare for life after high school! We have a long history of accomplishments to celebrate as we look back over the past three decades.
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 more than 350 students in Southeast Michigan annually. We partner with 13 schools across Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. Our alumni network grows each year, and with the graduation of the Class of 2020, it will grow by 116 (our largest graduating class yet)! By the end of this year, DRDFS will have awarded scholarships totaling $2 million since 1990.
DRDFS is proud of the students and supporters who have helped us get to where we are today. In our 30th year, we know we have accomplished a lot, but we 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.
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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