2024 - Message from the President

It's an honor to be delivering this message soon after what would have been Rosa Parks’ 111th birthday. As we embark on the 44th year of awarding scholarships, I know the entire Board of Trustees is so appreciative of our Immediate Past President, Kim Trent, who provided creative and inspiring leadership for a decade. I will be trying to follow in Kim’s footsteps to ensure that we can maintain--and where we are able--improve the provision of scholarships to deserving students.

We’ve already had a great start to the 2023-24 academic year as evinced by our new website created through the generosity of Umair Abbasi of fourfridays and “serial RPSF volunteer” Jon Goldstein. We hope you will find the updated site to be a more user friendly and informative platform for all the friends of the Foundation to engage in activities and support the Foundation.

We also had the distinct honor and pleasure of welcoming onto the Board one of Mrs. Parks’ great nieces, Erica Thedford. Trustee Robin Schwartz facilitated Local WDIV-Channel 4’s interview of Erica, along with one of our scholars who also won a Detroit News internship, Shawntay Lewis—the story can be found in the media links on this website.

We held a retreat last spring in which we planned a number of changes and identified avenues to increase the size of our scholarships (now $2500) in recognition of the increased costs of higher education. We will endeavor to further increase this amount, subject to--you guessed it-- our ability to grow our endowment (which earns a fixed income each year and by its rules cannot be drawn upon for additional disbursements) and fundraising efforts. We will need to meet the challenge of awarding as many scholarships as we can in a fiscally responsible manner. To that end, please be on the lookout for information about one such effort--our exciting concert fundraising event, spearheaded by Trustee Luther Keith, set to take place at Aretha’s Jazz Café on Thursday, March 28th at the Music Hall.

This is the crucial time of year when we do the “real work” of the Foundation, reviewing and judging applications to select the class of 2024 scholars. We are a working Board and each of the two to three hundred applications, from a highly competitive pool of applicants, is read by at least five Trustees, with all of the Board reviewing and approving the final selections. It’s a time consuming process but a labor of love for sure. The applications include eye-opening essays in which the students are asked to incorporate Mrs. Parks principles of social justice into their own lives and efforts to make a difference.

Thanks for your time in reading this snapshot of what the Foundation has been up to.

Our entire Board encourages and would welcome your support as we head toward our annual scholarship award luncheon this June. We also have our eye on the RPSF 45th Anniversary Celebration slated for 2025! Planning for both are in progress and details to follow.

All the best,

Jim Rosenfeld


Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees