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25th Anniversary Awards Celebration a Huge Success

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six students holding scholarship certificates

Alumni Cupp-Hamilton Scholarship winners pictured left to right: Mario Hanna, Austin Brown, Katie Filion, Jose House, Jr, Mark Daiowd, and Brittani Lipsey.

“I can frankly say that Winning Futures is strong. It’s unique. It’s built right. And it has the drivers behind it with the Winning Futures staff and all the important partners that Winning Futures needs to be successful in the community.”

Ten years ago, Sam Cupp, the founder of Winning Futures, spoke these words at our 15th Anniversary Celebration. If you didn’t know Sam, you might have thought he was blowing hot air. Sam was spot-on.

On Tuesday, May 14, 2019, more than 300 Winning Futures students, alumni, school administrators, staff, mentors, sponsors, and supporters gathered at Club Venetian in Madison Heights for our 25th Anniversary Awards Celebration. The evening started with a reception during which guests could drop a note into a time capsule (to be opened at our 50th anniversary in 2044), step back in time and see a high schooler’s room from 1994 complete with a boom box playing that year’s top song, The Sign, by Ace of Base, and try our most popular in-class educational activity – a synergy exercise where teams build a tower using only marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti noodles (check out the pics).

Kris Marshall, who was in the first Winning Futures class in 1994 and is now our president and CEO, started the dinner program by looking back, telling Sam’s story and how he wanted to create a program that helps high school students find success, like his mentor Gene Hamilton and high school marketing teacher Dominic LaRosa helped him. She noted how the program has grown, from a small 2-3 day supplemental class at Warren Mott High School, to a 25-week program at seven Metro-Detroit high schools with 150 mentors and 500 students annually.

Then we celebrated today’s students, mentors, and supporters. Eleven students received scholarships totaling $25,000. Six students received our Student of the Year Award.

“For years, I was afraid to speak about my dreams because I did not have a plan,” said Brittani Lipsey, Winning Futures Alumni Scholarship recipient. “Winning Futures helped me develop a career plan and learn important skills like goal setting, financial literacy, and success planning. I just completed my first year at the University of Michigan and I’ll soon enroll in the College of Engineering. I can say with confidence that I have Winning Futures to thank for this.”

Seven local business professionals received our Mentor of the Year Award and nine received our Five-Year Mentor Award. Scott Rice, president of Powerlink Construction, received our Sam Cupp Impact Award. Les Gold from American Jewelry and Loan, Hamilton Chevrolet, and Warren Consolidated Schools each received our Partnership Award.

“Advances in technology are changing the way we interact with employees and customers, and the way that most jobs are done on a day-to-day basis,” said Scott. “Winning Futures is preparing students to face these challenges while helping employers find skilled employees. I’m honored to receive the Sam Cupp Impact Award.”

Kris Marshall, founding educator Dominic LaRosa, and Winning Futures all received State of Michigan Special Tributes, recognizing service to Southeast Michigan. The Tributes were signed by State Senator Peter J. Lucido, State Representative Loris Stone, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Click here for a complete list of award winners.

Looking forward, Kris announced the rollout of our new Workforce Prep program – a structured and evidence-based four-year program that includes in-class mentoring, life skills development, goal setting, job readiness training, and career exploration. Through partnerships with the business community and local business professionals who serve as mentors, students will be transformed into self-reliant, employable, and productive adults with defined academic and career goals, and highly desirable workforce skills. The first year of this four-year program was launched during the 2018-19 school year. Subsequent years will be phased in over the next three years.

“Workforce Prep is our cutting-edge four-year experiential program,” said Kris. “We are exposing students to different careers and new technologies while teaching them how to think critically, how to communicate, how to problem solve, and how to be nimble in the face of rapid change.”

Sam’s remarks at the 15th Anniversary Celebration in 2009 ring just as true today as they did then. And, with Workforce Prep, they will ring true well into the future!

We are actively seeking local business professionals to mentor during the 2019-20 school year. Apply online by July 30, 2019.

Learn more about Workforce Prep or how you can support Winning Futures students by contacting Carla Wellborn at or 586-698-4536.