About a dozen years ago, along with other leaders, I helped to start a DPS Alumni Association. It was clear that after changes in Detroit, alumni of the public schools didn’t have a place to call home. We needed an umbrella organization and a place for alumni to connect and interact, regardless of where they went to school or whether that school had closed.

It took a few years, but we got alumni from 15 schools involved and formed a Board of Directors. Then, a few years later, the Association became a budget casualty when administrators cut off funding.

So, today, I’m grateful that the Foundation has launched its Alumni Program. As a proud member of the Eastern High School Class of 1954, I remember well when Detroit boasted some of the nation’s top public schools.  It’s our responsibility, as alumni, to take the lead, following our own experience, to help Detroit students do better.

There are terrific opportunities to start contributing your time and talents today. We need alumni to be role models, advisors, mentors and to inspire students that they can do the things that they otherwise may not have the confidence to do. From reading to Pre-K students to helping high schoolers prepare for college entrance tests, you can give back by getting involved.

30 years ago, I helped to start Metro Detroit Youth  Day, which has attracted more than 800,000 kids to Belle Isle for one packed summer day per year since it started. It’s the largest youth event in the state and strives to inspire young people to do the most good. We provide a safe, fun environment where they get to hear messages from successful people. Youth Day alumni include successful professionals of all types and it’s so gratifying to hear how that one day, one year helped set them on the right path.

You certainly don’t have to plan a grand event to make a difference. Please join me and the Foundation by signing up at www.dpsalumni.org.  I look forward to seeing you.