SAGINAW’S GOT TALENT • Gifted Students & Alumni Featured In Special October 22nd Showcase

Posted In: Culture, Community Profiles,   From Issue 886   By: Robert E Martin

10th October, 2019     0

Prepare your sensibilities for the amazing scope of sights, sounds and tastes slated to be featured at Saginaw’s Got Talent - an evening of on-stage talent & displays of Saginaw students and alumni that have excelled in the areas of art, science, career development, robotics, vocal, dance, musical, and theatrical abilities - that will be presented in a special program on Tuesday, October 22nd at the Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy from 5:30 - 8:30 PM.

Noted composer & musician Michael Brush will bring to the stage the talents of Sharrie Williams, Taylor Thompson, Roxanne Chantaca, Demona Reed, Andre, Jacques, William and LeFlore Reed, Hillary Huebler, Gracie Lutenske, Major Chords for Minors and Aniya Grey; while the array of student displays will feature award winning art, science, robotics and career development entries, collected and arranged by Ruth Ann Knapp, President of the Saginaw Board of Education

Tickets include refreshments,  appetizers (provided and sponsored by SodexoMAGIC) viewing of displays and onstage performances and proceeds will benefit Saginaw Promise scholarships for postsecondary education.   

“Saginaw’s students are achieving in the classroom and in their career. Their accomplishments are something to promote and celebrate,” states Joyce Seals, Saginaw Promise Chairperson. “Saginaw’s Got Talent” will not only spotlight what Saginaw’s students are accomplishing, but what Saginaw’s alums are doing post-graduation.”

The idea for Saginaw’s Got Talent originated two years ago when several community leaders gathered to discuss thoughts about outreach for Saginaw Promise and raising awareness and funding for programming and scholarships amongst the community.

According to Saginaw Promise director Deborah Sanchez, “Several ideas surfaced to involve Saginaw’s students by showcasing their talents to raise the awareness of what Saginaw’s students are achieving and to rally the community.” 

“With “Saginaw’s Got Talent”, we have several objectives -  we want to place a focus on the students, their talents and achievements; achievements and study in the classroom, their postsecondary education pursuits and careers they have undertaken.  We want people to see the value of investing to support postsecondary education, which will impact the future of Saginaw and the lives of its students. We want to raise awareness and aspirations by sharing what Saginaw’s students are doing and what the alumni are achieving in their chosen careers.  We want to raise the level of support and awareness amongst people in the community for the Saginaw Promise programming and scholarship and the impact that will be made through postsecondary education to the future of Saginaw and the entire Great Lakes Bay Region.”

Saginaw Promise was first formed in 2009 and began by articulating its goals, criteria, application form and process for dispensing it’s “last dollar” scholarship and plans for raising funds to support the program and scholarship.  The Saginaw Promise mission is to promote the importance of postsecondary education to impact the quality of life and retain and grow the population to enhance and support the overall economic environment in Saginaw. 

According to Sanchez, “The goal of the Saginaw Promise is for every graduating student to earn a program certificate or degree. The Saginaw Promise has many valued partners, both as funders, donors and the education community. The Saginaw Promise scholarship serves as a benefit, incentive and motivator for Saginaw’s students. The Saginaw Promise is sharing through information and outreach that to impact the future of Saginaw and that of its students that they are investing in the future through a postsecondary education scholarship. In late 2011, the Saginaw Promise Board voted that it would raise scholarship funding and award its first scholarship to the class of 2012.”

Since its inception, Saginaw Promise has definitely realized a return on its investment.

Outcomes to date include increased high school graduation rates, decreased dropout rates, growth in FAFSA completion and scholars that have earned program certificates and bachelor degrees. Indeed, since 2012, $830.000 has been awarded in scholarships to 492 students.    Graduation rates have increased from 2011 through 2018 to the following: Arthur Hill High School from 82.5% to 91.57%; Saginaw High School from 67.0% to 87.70%; Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy (SASA) from 85.3% to 100%. Moreover, dropout rates have decreased (2011-2018) to the following: AHHS from 7.5% to 4.82%; SHS 19.55% to 6.56%; SASA from 14.75% to 0.00%

“Saginaw’s students, many of which are the first generation in their families to pursue postsecondary education, are looking for information on how to navigate postsecondary education and funding resources,” explains Sanchez. “Saginaw Promise and the schools provide  assistance and information to promote postsecondary education, information on how to navigate postsecondary education and resources for funding postsecondary education.”

“The Saginaw Promise scholarship is not based on a GPA nor parental income and the Saginaw Promise honors the standards of the institutions scholars have enrolled in and must be maintained for the students to remain in good standing,” she continues.  “The Saginaw Promise scholarship is a “residency based” scholarship for students who live in the Saginaw Promise Zone, which includes the cities of Saginaw, Kochville, Zilwaukee, and that area of Buena Vista that is designated to the Saginaw Public School District. 

“To be eligible for the Saginaw Promise Scholarship, students must live in the Saginaw Promise Zone with their parents or legal guardian and must graduate from a high school in the Promise Zone.  The Saginaw Promise scholarship can only be used for tuition and mandatory fees in the State of Michigan. If attending a community college, if students receive no other funding, the Saginaw Promise is mandated to fund all tuition and mandatory fees up to two years.  If attending a four-year university, the Saginaw Promise scholarship will fund up to $2000 for the academic year up to two years.  Students must complete the Saginaw Community Scholarship and FAFSA annually to receive the Saginaw Promise scholarship.”

Students must complete the Saginaw Community Foundation application within two years of high school graduation to be eligible to use their Saginaw Promise scholarship within 6 years of graduation.  Students and their parents may visit for Saginaw Promise program and scholarship information.  Applications for 2019 go online November 1 and the deadline for submission is February 15, 2020.   

According to Sanchez, the biggest challenge for pulling a program such as Saginaw’s Got Talent together is recruiting the right people with the right skills to organize the onstage talents and displays.

Saginaw Promise was fortunate to recruit and secure the talents of Mike Brush, noted composer, musician and educator to organize and select the onstage talent. Mike, with his skills and name recognition, was the key component to get “Saginaw’s Got Talent” going from concept to planned event. Mike liked the concept for “Saginaw’s Got Talent” and accepted the challenge and the opportunity to organize the onstage talent.”

“The other key recruitment was to get someone involved who had firsthand knowledge of students and alumni to include with displays of award winning art, science, robotics and career development. Ruth Ann Knapp, school board President and retired educator was the “right” person. Ruth Ann, throughout the years has taken a key role in displaying Saginaw’s students’ award winning art and has been an avid cheerleader for Saginaw’s students. She used her insights, knowledge of the students and alumni to do outreach to recruit participants and displays for Saginaw’s Got Talent.”

“Other talented and enthusiastic committee members include Bev and Patrick Thompson, Pat Thompson designed and contributed the Saginaw’s Got Talent logo, Tim Furtaw (ABM) is bringing logistical, school building knowledge and manpower to the event and Melvin Price and SodexoMAGIC are donating their catering services to furnish appetizers and refreshments during the event’s viewing of displays.”      

Saginaw’s Got Talent provides the opportunity for the community to enjoy the wonderful sights, sounds and tastes provided by Saginaw’s students and Alumni (desserts will be provided by the award winning culinary students of the Saginaw Career Complex) and the opportunity to make a personal investment in the future of Saginaw and that of its students with the purchase of a ticket. All event proceeds will benefit Saginaw Promise programming and scholarships. “

“In addition to the onstage entertainment, there will be several segments featuring alumni sharing their postsecondary education and career pursuits, such as a welder who is in demand with the Big 3 automakers, a publisher of a news, cultural and entertainment magazine, an art student who is one of 150 accepted into a selected art program out of 1000 applicants, a professional dancer that not only excelled in dance while in high school, but has made this her career.”  

Easy on-line registration/payments for Tickets (using a credit card) are available at  For questions or to purchase tickets with check or cash, telephone Saginaw Promise at (989) 755-0545.  Promise Keeper tickets are $40 per person (preferred seating) and Promise Friend tickets are $15 per person.  Tickets are limited. 

For information about the Saginaw Promise, programming or scholarship, please visit the Saginaw Promise website at or telephone (989) 755-0545.           





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