Winning Futures

business mentors

Summer School Program Builds Confidence!

Winning Futures Summer School Program Builds Confidence for Academic Success.


Winning Futures recently implemented its middle school life skills mentoring course at Golightly Education Center in Detroit that focuses on building young people’s self confidence through academic goal setting.  During the summer school program, mentors and students work each week on a Winning Futures principal that provides struggling learners the confidence they need to improve for future academic success.


The summer program at Golightly is rewarding beyond words. To see the enthusiasm the kids put into learning is like no other.  The growth in self-esteem, knowledge,  and the tools the children are learning will be life changing,” commented volunteer mentor Lisa Thomas of Brown & Brown of Detroit.

A recent study by the Harvard Family Research Project showed that positive steps —like going to class, doing homework, arriving ready to learn, and actively participating in class—all lead to better academic performance.   These behaviors are strongly affected    by how young people see themselves; their confidence in their own abilities can  positively or negatively affect their performance in school.

 “Each week mentors work on  goal-setting strategies to influence a stronger sense of self.   When students believe they can achieve, it becomes much easier for them to reach their educational goals.” said, Laurie Tarter, Program Facilitator.

Student Thumbs Up

Winning Futures’ Life Skills topics, such as maintaining a positive attitude, helped young learners understand how their attitude can affect their academic success.  Students also evaluated their strengths which helped them identify their positive qualities and resulted in improved confidence. They also explored their moral and performance values to help them with better decision-making.

Lesley (6)


Lesley Gale described her experience this way, “We have been asked to work with students at Golightly to help build their self esteem. I certainly wish someone would have helped me realize who I was at this age. What an amazing experience for these teenagers. I believe they have received a life time gift and it was our pleasure to help them realize their best self.”




Scholarship Night Blog Collage


WARREN, MI, May 20, 2014 – 23 students from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, Harper Woods High School, Madison High School, Pontiac Academy for Excellence, and Warren’s Community High School and Warren Mott High School were awarded scholarships totaling $30,000 for continuing education based on essays submitted to and interviews conducted by business and community leaders at the June 9, 2014 Winning Futures Awards celebration.

Also at this event, six special individuals were honored with the Winning Futures Mentor of the Year Award in recognition of their voluntary contributions as mentors for tri-county area students. Marilyn Haley, Richard King, Dominic LaRosa, Judy Locher and Daniel Schafer were also honored as the Founding Educators for Winning Futures. Finally, Elite Success Partners received the Partner of the Year Award to honor their strong program support and assistance in recruiting mentors.

This is the 20th consecutive year that non-profit school-based mentoring program Winning Futures has presented these awards. The annual event brings together over 300 students, educators, mentors and program sponsors. All of these community partners have made it possible for Winning Futures to impact over 30,000 students and award $1.7 million in scholarships since its founding in 1994. 

The Winning Futures Mentor of the Year Award is presented to volunteers from the programs’ multiple mentoring sites to honor their commitment to mentoring and the difference they make in the lives of those they mentor. As mentors, they are helping students set goals, reach their potential, and discover their strengths. They also encourage academic achievement, career aspirations, and positive choices.

The 2014 Winning Futures Mentors of the Year are:

  • Heidi Beechie, Systems & Components Engineer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles –Pontiac Academy for Excellence
  • Lee Shelby, Facilities Manager, SRG Global- Harper Woods High School
  • Lesley Gale, Associate Department Chair, Davenport University – Madison High School
  • Jeffrey Lehnertz, Vice President, Huttenlocher Group – Warren Mott High School
  • Marcia Beck, Owner, Colorscapes – Cass Technical High School
  • Brendan Brosnan, Sergeant Emergency Manager, City of Warren – Community High School

“These six individuals have made a powerful, positive impact on young people through their role as mentors,” said Ken Elkins, Marketing and Program Director. “We are proud to honor them for their on-going dedication to volunteerism and making a stronger community.”

The Winning Futures Awards are sponsored by The Chrysler Foundation, Hamilton Chevrolet ,Extra Credit Union and Lusk and Albertson. It was held on June 9, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at Emagine Theatre in Royal Oak. Please visit or call 586-294-8449 for more information.

To view our 20th Anniversary Video click here:

Madison High Career/Culture/Community Day

Madison Career Culture Community


Madison High School in Madison Heights held a Career/Culture/Community day for their students on Friday, May 9th. Partnering with Madison High to make this a great day for the students was the United Way of Southeastern Michigan.

Volunteers from the community discussed their work with the high school students hoping to make an impact on the kids’ future.

There were five sessions on the morning of the 9th, and the students got to choose which presentation they attended each hour. Speakers talked to a group of approx. 20-35 students including a Q&A. Among the things the speakers discussed was the following:

• Provide an in depth understanding to your work
• The path it took to get to where you are today
• Education you received for the position
• Lessons learned and experiences
• Salary expectations
• Demand for the work (industry)
• Skill sets used in the position (industry)

Among the volunteers that presented that day were three Winning Futures mentors: Brendon Brosnan, Emergency Services Manager of the City of Warren; Amy Ostrand, Senior Advisor at Davenport University; and Tony Merlo, owner of Smarter Phones.


Winning Futures Creates Winning Students

Macomb NowThe ability to positively shape young minds is the greatest gift we can give future generations. that’s the goal of Winning Futures, an innovative school-based mentoring program.

“We connect young people with business professionals to help students develop strategic planning, college and job preparation and all of the life skills necessary to become self-reliant,” said Kristina Marshall Winning Futures president and CEO.

That paragraph is a snippet from the recently published spring Macomb Now magazines article on Winning Futures. In Macomb County Winning Futures conducts programming in three schools Warren Mott, Cousino, and Butcher Community High, an alternative school.

The article provides a great overview of the impact the program has on its students as it celebrates its 20 year anniversary; as well as quotes from mentors and educators currently involved with the program.

“As a mentor of high school students, I experience great satisfaction with being able to guide our youth and instill positive values that help them succeed in life.” Anthony Wickersham Macomb County Sheriff and Winning Futures mentor.

There are many ways you can become involved with Winning Futures. You can become a mentor and work one-on-one with students. You can become a board member and lend your expertise to various function. Lastly, you can donate money, most recently the Chrysler Foundation presented the organization with a $65,000 grant to support its award winning efforts within the communities they serve.

For the full length article click here


WARREN, Mich., April 01, 2014 – Winning Futures, a nonprofit organization that inspires and prepares at-risk youth for success, raised over $32,000 for its life skills, mentoring and scholarship programs at an Opening Day Party targeting business professionals on March 31, 2014.

Opening Day Post Collage            The event, sponsored by local businesses Bernard Financial Group, Farm Bureau Insurance, Fifth Third Bank, Maris, Brown and Rossell Insurance Group, MotorCity Office Solutions and O’Keefe, was held at the Gem Theatre where over 400 clients and executive level staff shared food and drinks in celebration of the Detroit Tigers home opener.

Money raised at the event will support the Winning Futures’ mentoring programs in Detroit, Harper Woods, Madison Heights, Pontiac and Warren, enabling high school students to partner with business mentors for the school year. Students will meet with their mentors on a weekly basis and complete fun, structured activities focused on character value development, goal setting, job readiness skills, and strategic five-year planning.

Contributions from the event will also support $25,000 in scholarships for the “RARE Everyday Hero Scholarship Program.” RARE honors real heroes that are changing lives, inspiring others and have made a difference through extraordinary commitment, integrity, selflessness and courage. RARE provides a forum for students to write about Everyday Heroes in their communities to help them see possibilities and make the connection to fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. High school seniors in Michigan are awarded $2,500 scholarships and the heroes they write about are honored annually at Winning Futures’ Night of Heroes event.

“Each year we are more and more amazed at the generosity and commitment of our sponsors and their guests,” said Kristina Marshall, President and CEO of Winning Futures. “Enabling us to provide mentors and scholarships to high school students that show great potential, the money raised at this event is integral to helping our kids reach their goals and continue their educational success. We truly thank each of our sponsors and all attendees for their continued support and charitable spirits. Together, we can make a difference in young people’s lives.”

Winning Futures is an award-winning non-profit organization that empowers youth to succeed through mentoring and strategic planning.  We partner with high schools in metro Detroit to facilitate weekly innovative mentoring sessions in the school where we engage youth through trusting relationships with mentors, energizing experiences, and unforgettable life lessons.  This weekly program is unique in that it has a fun, structured curriculum where mentors teach students though hands-on activities, written exercises, and group discussions.  We focus on character value development, self-exploration, goal setting, job readiness skills, overcoming obstacles, and strategic planning.  Over 95% of students continue their education past high school and we have awarded over $1.9M in scholarships to local youth.  Since 1994, 30,000 students have been impacted by Winning Futures.

Our History 1997

FItzpatrick BagMike Fitzpatrick became a mentor in 1997 and played an instrumental role in launching our mentoring program at Community High School in 1998.   This year Mike will be celebrating his 17th year as a Winning Futures Mentor. Above and beyond his mentoring, Mike also serves numerous volunteer roles within the Winning Futures Program.  He is a financial sponsor, a coach to new mentors, gives annual hands-on career tours of his manufacturing facility for hundreds of students, as well as provides job shadowing opportunities to the alternative high school students to earn credit toward gradation.

Our History 1996

Linda Reinhart and Laurie Tarter

In 1996, the dynamic duo of Linda Reinhart and Laurie Tarter joined the Winning Futures team.  By the end of 1997 the program became a formalized, facilitated mentoring program promising mentors and students a like an unforgettable, energizing, learning experience.

Our History 1995

Marilyn, Dom, Rich

In the fall of 1995, Sam assembled a team of outstanding educators from Warren Mott High School who were passionate about student development and shared Sam’s vision.  With the dedicated assistance of Dominic LaRosa, Marilyn Haley, and Richard King the program took flight.   That year 13 Scholarships were awarded totaling $52,000.  The newly founded program was also recognized by Governor Englers 1995 Distinguished Business-Industry Community Service Award and the Michigan Education Association “Exemplary Selection” Showcasing Public Success.

Our History 1994



The Winning Futures mentoring program was launched at Warren Mott High School in 1994 with 50 marketing students and recognized for its unique scholarship program by the United States Secretary of Education, Richard E. Riley.  That year, a bright eyed, ambition senior by the name of Kristina Sobczynski (now Marshall) received a scholarship and the coveted use of a red corvette for a week.

January Is National Mentoring Month?


January is a very unique month, it signifies the start to a new year, as well as the traditional commitment to a resolution or two, and the remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. However, what very few people know about January is that it is also National Mentoring Month.

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”

Think of where you are today and how you got there. Did you have a mentor or could you have benefitted from a role model dedicated to helping you navigate the pitfalls of growing up.

The highlight of National Mentoring Month is “Thank Your Mentor Day”, this year it was celebrated on January 16th. During this day people are encouraged to contact their mentors directly to express appreciation, become a mentor in their own community, make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program, or post a tribute on

To be a mentor, you don’t need special skills, just an ability to listen and to offer friendship, guidance and encouragement to a young person. And you’ll be amazed by how much you’ll get out of the experience.

Mentoring happens in a number of settings:
• The community.
• Schools.
• The faith-based community.
• Business.
• Through the Internet.

So during this month of new beginnings and resolutions take a moment to thank those who were instrumental in empowering you to be who you are.