Spring Letter from Executive Director, Christa Funk



Through your generosity, we are proud to have implemented some critical new elements in our program this year. With many of our students learning from home, and some students following a hybrid or an in-person model, we knew we needed to continue providing stable, consistent support no matter the circumstances.

  • Tutor.com allows students to chat with professional tutors at any time of the day or night, as often as they need to, and for any subject they’re studying.
  • Virtual Campus Visits have become a great way to keep students learning more about post-secondary institutions, the admissions process, campus life, majors, financial aid, and class sizes.
  • One-on-one personalized college coaching for the Class of 2021 has been an incredible addition. Our College Coach helps students navigate completing the FAFSA, applying to colleges, talking through next steps for enrollment, and more.
  • Virtual SAT Prep sessions, in partnership with professional tutors at The Princeton Review, teach our students tips and tricks to achieving high scores on their SAT test. We have seen our students’ scores increase across the board after our two sessions of prep in past years.
  • Weekly Student Newsletters provide resources and information to keep them engaged, encouraged and motivated.

These changes and updates to our program have allowed more flexibility and innovation in our work, resulting in substantially increased 1-to-1 personalized attention.

We also have a lot to look forward to this spring! We can’t wait to see the Class of 2021 graduate after working hard for three years in the Next Level Scholars Program. This spring, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars will have awarded over 1,700 students with more than 2.6 million dollars in scholarships since 1990.

We are looking forward to continued achievement and post-secondary degrees being earned for years to come.


Kind regards,

Christa Funk

Christa Funk

Executive Director

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars

Spotlight on Center Line High School

Four-Year Partnership

In 2017, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS) partnered with Center Line High School (CLHS). Since then, CLHS student participants have received targeted academic support, and $140,000 in scholarships from DRDFS. Every partner high school shares a passion to help prepare local students for post-secondary success. In addition to partnership with DRFS, CLHS offers students many opportunities to prepare for life after high school. 

Students Choose Career Pathways

In a recent conversation with CLHS Principal Andrea Szabo and Next Level Scholars Program Adviser Audrey Kary, they shared details on all the great programs CLHS provides to their students. The school operates under a wall-to-wall career academy model, in which each student chooses a career path and takes focused elective courses in their chosen field. To begin, each 9th grade student patriciates in the school’s Freshman Academy, where they learn about the many career choices available to them. At the end of the year, students choose to attend either the Health and Human Services Academy or the Industry, Technology or Innovative academy within CLHS. This career pathway choice dictates which elective courses they will take throughout their time in high school.

If students want to explore classes within their chosen career pathways that are not offered by CLHS, they are able to seek out various classes offered via the Southwest Macomb Technical Education Consortium (SMTEC). Because CLHS is one of four schools that make up SMTEC, they are able to offer students a wider selection of Career Technical Education (CTE) classes. These courses focus on high-wage, high-demand skills that are needed in today’s workforce.

Other students at CLHS who are interested in pursuing college courses starting in their junior year may choose to join either the dual enrollment program or the early college program, both offered through Macomb Community College (MCC). These programs are offered at no cost to students. It is possible for students to simultaneously earn their high school diploma and associates degrees upon completion of the early college program. In addition to the above, CLHS offers after school programs including Robotics, Engineering Pathway, a C2 STEM program offered through Wayne State University, and more.

DRDFS Impacts Center Line Students

Principal Szabo and Ms. Kary are enthusiastic supporters of the partnership between DRDFS and CLHS. In order to recruit students to join DRDFS, Ms. Kary identifies students who will benefit most from the program. She meets one-on-one to educate eligible students about the program, and guides them through the application process. She and Principal Szabo have noticed the life-changing impact DRDFS has made on students at their school, like a member of the Class of 2021 who decided to attend Oakland University after the virtual campus tour with DRDFS, or the student who decided to follow his passion to become a barber, and the student who decided to attend the University of Michigan after an in-person campus tour in 2019. Ms. Kary added “DRDFS helps students realize and pursue what they really want to do. They know they have people supporting them and they don’t have to do it alone.”

Center Line Student Receives 2021 Provost Scholarship

The Provost Scholarship for Business

In 2019, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS) worked with David Provost to establish a named scholarship for students who graduate from the Next Level Scholars (NLS) program. The Provost Scholarship for Business is awarded to one student per graduating class. The scholarship provides $10,000 each school year for four years, for a total of $40,000, to study business at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). Each spring since it was established, a senior student has been selected to receive the scholarship.

Seniors in the NLS program who are interested in pursuing a post-secondary degree in business from EMU are encouraged to apply. This year, after many student applications were reviewed, Marcos F., from Center Line High School, was selected to receive the scholarship award!


Scholarship Surprise

Marcos and his mother are surprised with balloons and an oversized scholarship check.

DRDFS staff coordinated with Center Line’s Principal and NLS Program Adviser to plan a special celebration and a Zoom announcement while Marcos was at school. To keep the announcement a surprise, Marcos expected to be interviewed alongside his mother, Primavera, for a newsletter article.
When David Provost joined the Zoom call, he made the announcement, saying, “Marcos, I want to congratulate you and tell you that you have been selected to receive my scholarship to Eastern Michigan University!”

To celebrate, Center Line staff cheered as they presented Marcos and his mother with balloons and an oversized scholarship check.

Mr. Provost went on to say, “When I was your age, someone gave me a scholarship … I hope you can pay it forward years from now to the next person down the line. I am here to help you if you need it over the next four years. My goal is to help make you successful.”


EMU Bound

Marcos expressed his gratitude to Mr. Provost, saying, “You’ve given me an opportunity to not only achieve my dreams, but to give back. You’ve invested in me and for that reason, I have never been more grateful and motivated to do great things.” When he graduates from high school this spring and transitions into the DRDFS Alumni Network, Marcos will continue have access to the vast support system and additional resources that DRDFS provides. Marcos looks forward to attending EMU in the fall, studying business, and learning about entrepreneurship.

Marcos poses in front of Center Line High School with balloons and oversized scholarship check.


In review: 8th Annual (Virtual) Celebration Luncheon

A (Virtual) Event to Remember

This March, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars hosted the 8th Annual (Virtual) Celebration Luncheon. Guests tuned in to the livestreamed show to learn about new program features, hear alumni insight, and see what DRDFS has been doing this school year for students adjusting to a new learning environment.

The event kicked off with students in the Next Level Scholars (NLS) program thanking donors for their impactful support along their post-secondary journeys. Thanks to the support of all event sponsors, including Presenting Sponsors P.R. Ziegler, INC Life Insurance, Seyburn Kahn, and Wells Fargo, this event was a great success. Emcee Paul W. Smith appeared live in-studio to begin the show and guide viewers through the first all-virtual Celebration Luncheon.

Alumni Shares Story

Following the welcome message from Board President, William C. Young, an Alumni took the stage to share his DRDFS story. Sha Azim, 2019 graduate of Center Line High School and the NLS program, is currently enrolled at Wayne State University as a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in finance. In a conversation with Board Member Bill Kingsley, Sha discussed why his education was so important to him at an early age and how his experience with DRDFS enabled him to step confidently into life after high school.

During the interview, Sha shared the following; “My parents moved to the US from Bangladesh to give me better opportunities. That’s why I take my education so seriously and it’s my number one priority. In high school, I was always looking for opportunities to help me go to college. What sparked my interest most about DRDFS was the campus visits and SAT prep. After visiting Wayne State University on a trip with DRDFS, I knew that was the school I wanted to attend.”

Thanks to You

To close the program, Executive Director Christa Funk provided an update on how DRDFS is helping students prepare for success, especially during a time when so many are studying from home. Online SAT test prep, virtual campus tours, increased one-on-one college advising, and access to online tutoring, are just a few of the resources students have access to this school year. This is made possible in large part by those who tuned in and donated to the annual Celebration Luncheon. Thank you for continuing to support local students as they prepare for success in life after high school.


The 8th Annual Celebration Luncheon is available to view on YouTube. Click here to watch!

DRDFS Impact Report


Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars has been helping local students for more than 30 years


Have you seen our recent Impact Report? Take a look inside to learn more about the history of our program, the impact of Next Level Scholars throughout the region, our students, and the supporters who make it all possible.

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