School is out for summer. But, that doesn’t mean students can just play video games, get up late and do nothing. One Detroit organization has made a tradition of taking bus loads of kids half way across the country to expand their minds and hopefully their opportunities.
This year between July 15 and 22, Franklin Wright Settlements (FWS) and its young, eager travelers will visit eight different colleges and universities across four states. At the end of the eight-day journey, some will return home with offers for admission and others will get their first taste of college life in an up close and personal way.
Monique Marks, CEO of FWS, says between 40 and 45 students make the trip each year, “This gives these young people a chance to visit some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country,” she says. “For more than 130 years, Franklin Wright Settlements has worked in Detroit for the betterment of the community. This exposure opportunity opens up a whole new world for these students.”
Franklin Wright Settlements was established in 1881 as the first such program in the state of Michigan. Marks describes the organization as a “beacon of hope,” servicing Southeast Michigan. Aside from the annual college tour, the group provides early start, after school and counseling and prevention services to those on Detroit’s East side and beyond.
For Micah, a junior at Cass Technical High School, this is her fifth time going on the tour. She hopes to become a lawyer, like her uncle. She has big plans for her future and values being able to get a head start on college by visiting several schools on one trip. Micah says her uncle has promised her at least an internship once she eventually finishes law school. “This is a chance of a lifetime for me. I look forward to this year as much as I did when I first went when I was in seventh grade.”
Second year tour participant Karl, a junior at Renaissance High School, plans on being an orthopedic surgeon one day. He says the tour has helped him narrow down his medical school choices, which include Johns Hopkins, Princeton and the University of Michigan.
“Going has really helped me broaden my horizons,” he says. “This way, I can get on campus before I actually go off to school. The trip has also helped me focus on what specialty I want to go into when I become doctor. I want to help people and make a difference.”
Marks says parents see the investment as well worth it. “Parents have come back and told me how appreciative they are of what the kids learned on the trip. With so little time over the summer spent in the classroom, this gives these kids a chance to look forward to what their futures might be,” she says.
She added that of the hundreds of children who have gone on the trip over the years, all who wanted to attend college have gone.
To help with the cost of the tour, students hold fundraising events throughout the year through the FWS Teen Center. Some scholarships are made available as well from donations to the program from the community. Donations are always welcome.
For more information on the college tour, call 313-579-1000, ext. 245. You can also visit the FWS website at www.franklinwright.org.