SAGINAW, Michigan (WJRT) - (5/22/17) - A big night for high school students at the Saginaw Community Foundation's "Excellence in Education" event.
More than 350 students received scholarship awards totaling 639-thousand dollars - a record in the Community Foundation's 30-year history of giving.
It's not graduation just yet, but these students have plenty of reason to celebrate.
"Buying books and stuff for school - paying for tuition --take all the money we can get gladly," exclaimed scholarship recipient Deara Jackson of Saginaw who plans to attend Northwood.
These students are among the 353 receiving 490 scholarship awards this year.. One hundred and forty-one students are eligible for the Saginaw Promise Zone Scholarship which provides $1,000 dollars per semester for two years, allowing students to attend a Michigan college, university of trade school.
"Without it I wouldn't be here and have the support I have right now," noted Diego Vasquez. "It shows that there are people here to help us."
Director Deborah Sanchez says in addition to providing these young people with a future--the Saginaw Promise Zone Scholarships are also having a positive impact on future graduates:
"We have seen graduation rates go up," noted Sanchez," drop out rates go down, and we've seen college enrollment go up, it's now over fifty percent."
Another community may also soon benefit from a program similar to what they have here in Saginaw if the Michigan legislature votes to approve a bill that would create a Flint Promise Zone.