Next Level Scholar, Kelvin Hasanaj featured in Fox 2 Graduation Story

As he prepared for his high school graduation, Next Level Scholar, Kelvin Hasanaj, spoke with Fox 2 News reporter, Ingrid Kelley, about the challenges he faced during his journey of moving to the United States in the 10th grade, learning English and now graduating high school and continuing on to college.

Courtney Carrol, his Adviser, remarked on how proud she was of him. “He’s grown so much,” she said. “Just the difference in when he started to now, is huge. And I do think Dollars for Scholars and the relationships that he built has a lot to do with that.”

As Christa Funk, DRDFS Executive Director, described how DRDFS works to inspire students and prepare them for success after high school, Clintondale Principal, Meloney Cargill, commented, “We’ve seen the benefit for all of our students and hopefully one day the program can expand to include more of our students.”

Click here to see the full story. DRDFS is extremely proud of Kelvin’s success and will continue to support him on his educational journey. Congratulations, Kelvin!

Letter from the Executive Director – Spring 2022

Friends,

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars has so much to celebrate this spring!

In March, we saw many of you at the 9th Annual Celebration Luncheon. Governor Whitmer joined us and recognized DRDFS’s efforts to help build a stronger community focused on education. We are so grateful for all the support we received, making this our most successful luncheon to date, raising over $845,000!

This spring, we were also proud to announce the addition of our 15th partner high school, Redford Union. They will be joining over 400 Next Scholar students this fall with the addition of the Class of 2025. We are excited to continue expanding our program to break down barriers for even more students.

In April, we hosted our first in-person event welcoming more than 100 students to the Next Level Scholars program. The Class of 2024 joined us on Eastern Michigan University’s campus for Project Runway, a day which included leadership training, a campus tour, a DRDFS alumni panel, a career Q&A, and more! Our sophomores went home feeling inspired about their journey ahead to postsecondary education.

On May 4th, we celebrated the Class of 2022 at Suited for Success, our College Decision Day event. As each senior walked to the podium and announced their plans for the future, the room was filled with applause and cheers from their family and friends. We are so excited for each of our students as they begin post-secondary education, and are grateful to continue our support through one-on-one alumni coaching.

Finally, we celebrate you—our supporters, our donors, and our partners. This spring, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars will have awarded over 1,700 students more than $3 million in scholarships since 1990. It is your support that makes these moments and these scholarships possible. Thank you!

Warm regards,Christa Funk, Executive Director of Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars

Christa Funk
Executive Director

Spotlight on Madison High School

Madison High School (MHS) has been a partner school of Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars since 2015. It is one of our smaller partner high schools with enrollment of about 300 students. As a school of choice, over 40% of the population are students from communities outside of Madison Heights.

In spite of their small size, MHS offers many clubs and sports teams that are popular with students. They also benefit from many additional programs offered at the school.  The General Motors (GM) Internship Program is one such program where students work on projects around the school with GM’s support.

Like so many schools, Madison struggled during COVID and experienced student and staff turnover. Cheyenne Serrato, Madison’s Next Level Scholars Program Adviser, stated that getting back to in-person learning has been instrumental in rebuilding student involvement and school spirit. The students and staff are also excited about a recent bond that passed which will result in some needed building repairs and updates happening over the summer.

“The teachers and staff at Madison are dedicated and committed to the school and the students,” Cheyenne Serrato said. “They are here to make a difference for these kids. Many Madison students want to continue their education after high school and we are committed to helping them achieve their goal.”

Since MHS began in the Next Level Scholars Program, their students have received instruction and support, and have been awarded $144,000 in scholarships from Dollars for Scholars. This year, Madison senior Ahmad Naeem, was named a Kuzak Scholarship recipient. This competitive scholarship provides $50,000 over four years to a student who wants to study at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Patricia Perry, Madison’s new principal, stated, “Things are rebuilding and renewing at Madison and we are excited to be a part of that process. Dollars for Scholars offers a great opportunity for our students. I love the program.”

 

Suited for Success Describes Our DRDFS Class of 2022

On May 4th, the Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars Class of 2022 gathered at Laurel Manor for Suited for Success, where the seniors announced their postsecondary plans.

The evening began with a panel of three Next Level Scholars alumni who shared their paths to college through to their current careers, giving students a glimpse of what their futures could be. Afterward, the students joined with family and friends for some refreshments before gathering to celebrate the big announcements.

The festivities began with Gail Tubbs, a retired University of Michigan Senior Admissions Counselor, who offered inspiring words to the graduates, encouraging them to recognize their talents and “G.O.A.T.-ness” (Greatest of All Time). The Dollars for Scholars Advisers were then honored for their hard work and dedication. Next, student speaker Josh Arzola thanked the Dollars for Scholars staff and commended his fellow students for owning their chosen paths.

Finally, it was time for the seniors to take the spotlight. Family and friends applauded as each student stood at the podium and announced what they would be doing after high school. As each student made their declaration, their peers hoisted posters, waved pompons, and blew horns. While supporting each student’s decision, the schools were also demonstrating their school spirit for the Scholar Spirit Award. In the end, Melvindale prevailed and emerged as the winner.

It was a wonderful evening celebrating the rewards of hard work and commitment. All of us here at Dollars for Scholars are so proud of our resilient seniors. Congratulations to the Class of 2022!

Click here to see a video highlight of the event!

9th Annual Celebration Luncheon Highlights

For the first time since 2019, over 600 supporters and donors gathered at the University of Detroit Mercy to celebrate the Class of 2022 at the 9th Annual Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS) Celebration Luncheon. Emcee Paul W. Smith began the celebration by welcoming and thanking everyone for their support of Dollars for Scholars. He was echoed by William C. Young, President of DRDFS, who acknowledged, “We would not be where we are today without our donors and community supporters. Thank you for believing and investing in the futures of our deserving students.”

After Jacqueline M. Baker, who coached the students on leadership and etiquette, introduced the Class of 2022, student speaker Katelyn Saffo took the podium. She shared that she will be a first generation college student when she attends Wayne State University in the fall. Kaitlyn spoke of the support she received from Dollars for Scholars and how grateful she was to everyone who encouraged her journey. Kaitlyn stated, “Dollars for Scholars has changed my life. I can honestly say that it was the best high school decision that I have made. Thanks to Dollars for Scholars, my path is set and I’m on my way to reach success.”

Executive Director Christa Funk provided an update of how DRDFS safely returned to in-person programming and continued to support Next Level Scholar students and alumni. The Alumni Emergency Fund, implemented in 2020, has continued to financially assist alumni, allowing them to stay in college. In addition, due to the success of the post-secondary transition coaching model, a second coach was added for the Class of 2022.

Lastly, Governor Gretchen Whitmer talked about Michigan’s “Sixty by Thirty” goal; to have 60% of Michigan’s adult population have a post-secondary certificate or degree by 2030. She spoke of the importance of DRDFS’s impact, and addressed the students saying, “The training you have received through Dollars for Scholars has set you up for success and you are going to write your story.” She acknowledged the students’ resilience and hard work, and encouraged them by saying, “I promise you, you already possess everything you need to chase the things that you want. Today more than ever, I feel confident that the state of Michigan’s future is bright. I believe — we all believe in you.

Paul W. Smith closed the event by acknowledging all who made the Celebration Luncheon possible, especially the Doctorate Sponsors, Barton Malow, PR Ziegler, Inc. Life Insurance, Ambassador Ronald Weiser, Wells Fargo and The Young Family Foundation.

Mark your calendars for next year, March 8, 2023, when we will be commemorating 10 years of celebrating together!

Click here to see highlights of Gov. Whitmer’s speech.

Click here to learn more about Gov. Whitmer’s “Sixty by Thirty” Goal.

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