Video Message: We're stronger, wiser, and ready for the 2020-21 school year!
2020-21 school year includes four new programs that are safe, fun, and impactful.
When schools abruptly closed this past March, instead of shutting down or hitting the pause button, we pivoted. Almost overnight, we morphed our in-person mentoring sessions into online versions and ended the year by mentoring students weekly through the popular Zoom webinar service.
As we planned for the upcoming school year and with no end to COVID-19 in sight, we pivoted again. From our experience this spring, we know that students are hesitant to engage in large group virtual activities, so we designed our 2020-21 program to be virtual and one-on-one with their mentors. All students will be eligible to apply for a Winning Futures scholarship ($1,000 - $2,500 each) and receive incentives for meeting their attendance expectations.
Our 2020-21 program includes these four models:
- One-on-One Virtual Mentoring: This program is for students who were in last year’s program at one of our participating schools. Each session will include a brief video lesson and mentoring through an online platform. The content builds upon the previous year’s curriculum and focuses on positive attitude, perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and exploring careers and continuing education. Learn more or sign up online.
- Virtual School-Based Mentoring: This program is for students at our participating partner schools. Sessions will start with a staff member leading a brief virtual lesson and activity. Then students will meet virtually with their mentor who will reinforce the day’s lesson through supportive discussion. Topics will include goal setting, career exploration, continuing education, and life skills development.
- Workshop Series: This program is for our partner schools when they open for in-person education. We will host half-day workshops focused on researching, selecting, and applying for continuing education (college, trade school, or other), professional communication skills, creating a resume, and interviewing skills. Volunteers from the business and education communities will engage students virtually throughout each workshop.
- College Success Coaching: This program is for our alumni or Detroit Promise students who are currently enrolled in continuing education (college, trade school, or other). Alumni will be paired with a staff member or veteran mentor for bi-weekly coaching calls and support. Topics will focus on developing professional skills, supporting their emotional needs, and staying in school. Learn more or sign up online.
Six students receive Student of the Year honor.
COVID-19 forced us to cancel our annual end-of-year Awards Celebration, however, we weren’t going to let it stop us from recognizing and celebrating the outstanding work and achievements of our students. We took our show on the road and celebrated with our students in their driveways!
Our Student of the Year award recognizes the amazing hard work and dedication of one student at each of our participating schools. Below you’ll find the names of each 2019-20 Student of the Year award winner. Click on their name to watch a brief video of their driveway celebration.
“My mentor helped me compare different careers and figure out the one I want.”
“I learned how to plan my future and the steps I need to take to get there.”
“I learned that I can accomplish more with my mentor, that I can do more things.”
“I learned the importance of keeping a positive attitude and that I have a bright future.”
“My mentor inspired me to stay focused and live life well.”
“I feel like I had one of the best mentors ever. With her positive attitude, sincerity, and care, I was successful.”
Jerry Porter, alum, has a vision and plan – he’s a business, man!
Jerry Porter is 20 years old, lives in Detroit, and recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Wayne State University. He works in vendor compliance at Belfor Property Restoration and will soon get involved in his community, helping with the upcoming elections and finding ways to improve the city and neighborhood that he grew up in and loves.
Jerry has a vision and a plan. He knows what he’s doing. But it hasn’t always been this way.
“I was just an average student at Cass Tech,” said Jerry. “But I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was confused. I had no purpose.”
Jerry entered our program in his sophomore year. In the beginning, he wasn’t very interested. Then Jerry met and began working with his mentor, Ahmed Beasley, senior consultant at Plante Moran Cresa. His attitude quickly changed.
“At first, it was just a way to get out of class. After the first week, I was pretty much hooked.”
For Ahmed, our program was an opportunity to use his passion and experience to help students see a bright future and get on a productive path.
“A lot of young men in my demographic share a similar situation. They get mislabeled and manipulated,” said Ahmed. “A kid with a lot of potential begins to make bad decisions. I’ve been that route or know people that have been in this position. It’s one of the main reasons I mentor.”
Through our program and Ahmed’s mentoring, Jerry explored business-related careers and developed academic and career plans. Jerry’s success was no surprise to Ahmed.
“Jerry always had leadership skills and drive,” said Ahmed. “He just needed a little help figuring things out and learning how to achieve his goals.”
As each school year ends, we host celebrations for every class, allowing students and mentors to reflect on the year. Mentors often share with their student a quote that embodies their accomplishments.
“Ahmed gave me a quote by Jay-Z. ‘I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man,’” said Jerry. “For him to tell me that I’m destined to be in business and that I have a real future, it sat well with me.”
Let it be known, Jerry Porter is a business, man!
Even though our in-person programming was cut short this year, we still made an impact!
We’ve been working with the Youth Policy Lab at the University of Michigan for the past several months to analyze our program and its impact. The results are in and, despite school closures from COVID-19, they are impressive.
With help from 149 volunteers from the business community who served as mentors and 178 other volunteers, 617 students were impacted this past school year at our seven participating schools: Cass Technical High School (Detroit); Community High School (Sterling Heights); Harper Woods High School (Harper Woods); Mumford High School (Detroit); Pontiac Academy for Excellence (Pontiac); Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology (Southfield); and Warren Mott High School (Warren).
- Our program has a greater impact on students who are not initially college-bound.
- Our program has an equitable impact for all students, regardless of race, economic level, or gender.
- Compared to non-Winning Futures students, students improved their attitude, self-efficacy, growth mindset, and perseverance.
- 98% gained confidence.
- 81% improved their job readiness skills.
- 93% completed the first step towards completing their continuing education or career goal.
- 83% of students have more direction in their career path.
- 87% have improved their ability to work collaboratively on a team.
- 90% have a better understanding of what it will take to achieve the education and career they want.
- 79% of students were more optimistic about the future.
Congratulations to our 2019-20 student scholarship recipients!
Every year we award scholarships to our students and alumni in support of their continuing education (college, trade school, or other). Since 1994, we have awarded more than $1.9 million. Our Alumni Scholarship is awarded to former Winning Futures students, while our Cupp-Hamilton Scholarship, named after our founder, Sam Cupp and his mentor, Gene Hamilton, is awarded to current Winning Futures students.
New this year is our Melvin Atkins Memorial Scholarship. Named after a former student who tragically died in an auto accident, this scholarship was established by Melvin’s former mentor, Kevin Sutton, office managing member at Miller Johnson - Detroit, and his wife Lauren. The scholarship recognizes one student who embodies Melvin’s positive attitude and drive for success.
Normally we’d award our scholarships at our annual Awards Celebration. With COVID-19, we took our show on the road and celebrated with our students in their driveways and asked alumni winners to send in a video selfie.
University of Michigan
“Winning Futures taught me the importance of taking small steps to strive for the big picture.”
Eastern Michigan University
“After you leave Winning Futures, you begin to use the tools and knowledge, and you realize how important it really is.”
University of Michigan Dearborn
“All the techniques and everything I learned have been instrumental in getting me to where I am today.”
University of Michigan
“Winning Futures helped me develop my career plan and knowledge of goal setting, financial literacy, and planning for a successful future.”
University of Michigan
“Winning Futures opened my eyes to the importance of networking and planning steps to reach my goals.”
Wayne State University
Western International High School
“Winning Futures helped not only me, but many other students in finding their own path at their own pace.”
Community High School
Wayne State University
“Winning Futures showed me that there are really people in the world that care about you and want to see you succeed in life.”
2019-20 Cupp-Hamilton Scholarship Recipients at Community High School
Melvin Atkins Memorial Scholarship
Congratulations to our 2019-20 mentor award winners!
This past school year was unlike no other. When COVID-19 struck and caused schools to abruptly shut down, we didn’t blink. With help from our mentors and school administrators, we pivoted and morphed our program, almost overnight, into a virtual model. We continued to engage our students in meaningful contacts through online meetings, phone calls, and text messages.
2019-20 Mentor of the Year Awardees
Our Mentor of the Year honor is awarded annually to a mentor from each of our participating schools in recognition of their outstanding commitment to mentoring and support of their students. Click on each name to watch a brief congratulatory video.
Harper Woods High School
“Brian helped me make decisions that will better my life. He inspired me to do good in school.” J.F., student
Community High School
“Ms. Vicki taught me how to speak up for myself, how to get to my goals, how to do good in life, and how to communicate with people.” M.S., student
Cass Technical High School
“Besima helped me see the good in myself. She makes me want to be a better person.” N.S., student
Warren Mott High School
“Mike inspired me to live my life to the fullest and to be successful. I want to be like him.” H.O., student
Southfield High School A&T
“Brian is a good role model for me and he’s very caring. I really look up to my mentor.” A.R., student
Pontiac Academy for Excellence
“Stephen helped me get through some tough times. He talked to me and listened.” J.L., student
Mumford High School
“Michael helped me out a lot, with my life and at school. He’s a really cool person.” D.R., student
5-Year & 10-Year Mentor Award Recipients
We also have many mentors whose dedication to mentoring extends well beyond one school year. Click here to learn more about our 5 and 10-Year Mentor Award Recipients.
Besima Mello brings her mentoring A-game.
When asked to talk about her mentor, the first thing Miyah Hepburn said was, “I love her so much. She’s like part of the family now.”
Miyah was talking about Besima Mello, treasury manager at Ally Financial. Besima mentored Miyah this past year in our program at Cass Technical High School (Cass Tech) in Detroit.
“She helped me learn how to plan my future, and the steps necessary to get there,” said Miyah. “She taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to.”
Besima just completed her seventh year in our mentoring program and won this year’s Mentor of the Year honor at Cass Tech. Her interest and dedication to mentoring was born in part from her own life experiences.
As a 14-year-old in Bosnia in the early 90’s, Besima’s family was devastated by the horrors of war. Her father was taken prisoner during the Bosnian War and shipped to a camp from which he was never seen again. At 15 years old, she escaped with her mother and younger brother, immigrating to the U.S. with little more than the clothes they were wearing on their backs. Life in the U.S. was better but presented an entirely new set of challenges.
“Navigating high school is hard enough,” said Besima. “For someone who moved here and didn’t speak English, it was no joke. My mom didn’t speak English either and depended on me to translate and take care of our family’s affairs.”
Help for Besima came from two unexpected sources – her science teacher and a family friend.
“My science teacher had a genuine interest in helping me succeed, not just in his class, but also in my future. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was my first mentor,” said Besima. “And a family friend helped me with my college applications and took me to buy the SAT prep book. I didn’t even know what the SAT was.”
After graduating from college and getting a job, Besima reflected on her path to success and knew it was time to give back.
“I wanted to help kids like I was helped. I tried the Winning Futures summer camp at Cass Tech and loved it. I loved the class. I loved the energy. I knew this was the right fit for me.”
Besima has been an outstanding mentor and role model. Every year she brings her A-game, helping her students see a bright future, get excited, and develop the knowledge and skills they need to achieve success. As one of her former students said, “I have a hard time seeing what’s good about me. Besima helps me see the good and makes me want to be a better person.”