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.

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars Coaching First-Generation College Students

Post-secondary Coach, Marketea Abbott and Next Level Scholar, Lina Karteet, were featured by WXYZ Detroit in a story highlighting the challenges of first-generation students and how Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars is helping them. Freshmen juggling financial aid, campus life, class schedules and professors, can find it challenging and sometimes need someone to help them figure things out, or just be a shoulder to lean on.

“If a student has had someone in their family go off to college before, that pathway is kind of forged,” said Dollars for Scholars Executive Director Christa Funk. “But if you’re the first in your family to go, there’s a lot of questions out there,” she continued.

Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars follows students through their first year of post-secondary learning; whether that be at a two or four-year college or a trade school. “I didn’t know how to navigate college. I was three hours away from home,” Marketea said. Now, she is coaching Lina and others navigate their first year of college.

Click here to see WXYZ’s full story and hear more about Marketea and Lina.

Next Level Scholars Fall Recap

Eastern Michigan University Event Recap

On Wednesday, September 29, juniors in the Next Level Scholars program visited Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan for our first in-person student event since March 2020! Students joined DRDFS staff in the auditorium to reconnect, play an icebreaker game, and hear a presentation from EMU Admissions. Students also enjoyed a campus walking tour where they explored academic buildings, dorms, and more. Athena from Mason said “The tour at EMU was really fun and enjoyable. EMU is definitely on my college list now and I hope I get in when I apply during senior year!”

 

 

Apply at Walsh College

On Tuesday, October 26, seniors in the Next Level Scholars program visited Walsh College in Troy, Michigan for a College Fair, FAFSA session, Scholarships & Alumni workshop, and more! Students had a chance to meet with admissions representatives from nearly 20 post-secondary institutions for a chance to learn more about their admissions requirements, ask questions and in some cases receive direct on-site admission! Sherry, a senior from Clintondale said, “The College Fair Session was my favorite because it allowed me to talk to representatives and gave me the opportunity to get the direction and answers I needed before applying”. Walsh College also hosted a session to inform students on their programs, financial aid, and also provided a campus tour. It was a very successful and informative day!

 

Oakland University Campus Visit

On Thursday, November 4, juniors in the Next Level Scholars program visited Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan for a campus tour, admissions presentation, and lunch in the dining hall. Students had the opportunity to hear from OU Admissions and they completed the Build Your Dream College activity along with taking an extensive tour of campus. The day concluded in OU’s newest dining hall—Hillcrest Hall. Braylon from Mason said, “Oakland University is a very welcoming school; I could see myself on campus.” Students enjoyed the dining hall experience and continued their conversations about the campus during lunch.

 

Sophomore Welcome at CMA

On Wednesday, December 8, DRDFS visited our newest partner high school—Communication & Media Arts, for an orientation and welcome to the program. DRDFS Staff, CMA advisers, and sophomores played an icebreaker game, ate pizza, discussed NLS program policies/expectations, and had a chance to get to learn more about our newest group of students. Students shared their intention or goal for the year with the Next Level Scholars program—many of them used words like “success” and “growth” for what they hope to gain from participating in the program.

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