Director of Communications & Development
Christa Alessandri-Howley is the Director of Communications & Development at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. Christa joined the team in 2022 and is responsible for fundraising, planning and executing fundraising events, as well as marketing and social media. Prior to joining Dollars for Scholars, Christa worked as a senior manager at a consulting firm and then as the executive director of an educational foundation. Christa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Communications as well as a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.
Post-Secondary Transition Coach
Lyric Bingham is a Post-Secondary Transition Coach at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. Lyric joined the team in 2023 to work with students throughout the college enrollment process by providing outreach, coaching, and guidance based on each student’s unique post-secondary plans. Lyric assists in coordinating senior-focused programming and experiences like FAFSA workshops, financial literacy training, comparing aid award letters, and more. As a Post-Secondary Transition Coach, Lyric walks alongside students through their first year of college by engaging them in FAFSA renewal challenges, check-ins, coffee meet-ups, and pop up celebrations. Lyric is an alumnus of Melvindale High School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan.
Next Level Scholars Program Manager
Marissa D’Angelo is the Next Level Scholars Program Manager at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. Marissa joined the team in 2019 to work alongside the Next Level Scholars Program Director in coordinating targeted experiences to support students as they prepare for life after high school. She is responsible for managing transportation logistics for events, creating event materials, and communicating with students, parents, advisers and other stakeholders. Prior to joining Dollars for Scholars, Marissa worked in higher education where she administered financial aid for students studying abroad, contributed to the First Generation Student Commission, and was a member of the Council for Non-Traditional Students. Marissa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University.
Elijah Daniel is serving as our summer Communication Intern through 2023 AmeriCorps VISTA Services Program. Last year, Elijah served as our first AmeriCorps VISTA service member intern. Elijah assisted alumni with enrollment, re-enrollment, and general support needed in life after high school. Elijah now works with our Director of Communication and Development to engage with students and alumni via social media. As a fellow Next Level Scholars alumni, Elijah is passionate about the program and enjoys communicating with all NLS students. Currently, Elijah is a senior at Michigan State University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication.
Christa Funk is the Executive Director of Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS). Since Christa joined DRDFS in 2012 as the Academic Support Manager, she has expanded the college access program from 40 to over 350 students served annually, increased the organization’s high school partnerships by 70% and created a robust and holistic approach to how DRDFS prepares students for post-secondary success. Christa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language Arts and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, both from the University of Detroit Mercy. Christa is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a National Officer and Character Lead Advocate for Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority.
Next Level Scholars Program Director
Jill Marecki is the Next Level Scholars Program Director at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. She is responsible for strategically leading the program team, as well as building strong partnerships and enhancing the organization’s data practices. Jill holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Kalamazoo College and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Oakland University. Since 2010, Jill has dedicated her career to education and college access in Detroit. In 2018, Jill was recognized as Detroit 2020 Person of the Week by WXYZ Detroit Channel 7 for starting a scholarship fund and college success program to help her former students enroll and persist in college. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Detroit Alumni Success Collective (DASC) and on a local board in Plymouth, Michigan.
Awards and Alumni Manager
Erin Talbot is the Awards and Alumni Manager at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. Erin joined the organization in 2017 as the Academic Support Coordinator, working to successfully execute the robust and holistic program Dollars for Scholars uses to prepare students for life after high school. Erin moved into the Awards and Alumni Manager role in 2018 with the goal to strategically engage program alumni throughout their post-secondary experiences and beyond. She has also navigated and implemented the organizations first donor-enhanced scholarship, manages over half a million dollars in program scholarships each year, and has restructured the awards policy to provide individualized attention to incentivize post-secondary completion. Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration from Grand Valley State University.
Robert Tscherniwetz is the Operations Specialist at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. Robert joined the organization in the fall of 2022 to work alongside the Executive Director and Next Level Scholars Program Director in assisting with a number of operational and administrative duties across the organization, including data collection and distribution, meeting and program preparation, record keeping as well as documentation of information at all board and committee meetings. Robert holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a focus in Public Relations from the Wayne State University, as well as an MBA with a focus on International Business, also from Wayne State University. Before joining DRDFS, Robert was a High School Math/Science Teacher at a college-prep Charter School in Houston, where he championed and supported students from underserved communities.
Next Level Scholars Program Coordinator
Sandy Valdez is the Next Level Scholars Program Coordinator at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. Sandy joined the team in 2023 to work alongside the Next Level Scholars Program Manager in coordinating targeted experiences to support students as they prepare for life after high school. She is responsible for managing transportation logistics for events, creating event materials, and communicating with students, parents, advisers, and other stakeholders. Sandy holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Wayne State University.
Post-Secondary Transition Coach
Tania Vega is a Post-Secondary Transition Coach at Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. She joined the team in 2023 to support seniors through the college enrollment process and as they transition to their first year after high school. Tania assists participants through one-on-one coaching, hosting FAFSA and financial literacy workshops, navigating financial aid and more. She guides students by maintaining communication through their first year of post-secondary education and supporting challenges that students may face. Tania graduated from Detroit Cristo Rey High School in 2017 and is an alumni of the Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars program. Tania has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from University of Detroit Mercy.
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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