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.
Today, they serve more than 350 students in Southeast Michigan annually and partner with 13 schools across Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. By the end of this year, DRDFS will have awarded scholarships totaling $2 million since 1990.
Click the photo to go to the Dollars for Scholars page.
The objective of the Next Level Scholars™ program is simple; to inspire and prepare students to succeed in life after high school. The three-tiered, holistic approach provides targeted resources, experiences and support for students at key intervals throughout high school as they navigate their path to post-secondary education.
Before students can begin preparing for life after high school, they need to envision themselves belonging on a post-secondary campus. Through campus visits and events, Next Level Scholars™ allows students see the opportunities available to them and become excited to continue on to their next level of education. Once the light bulb is turned on and students are able to see the options available to them, they participate in programming to learn about financial aid, leadership skills, and admissions requirements.
Click the photo to go to the Next Level Scholars page.