DEARBORN – The Arab American News is completing preparations for holding the second annual gala to distribute scholarships to high school graduates bound for college out of the Dearborn and Crestwood School Districts, as part of the Future Leaders in Progress (F.L.I.P.) scholarship program launched last year in partnership with Huntington Bank, which was joined this year by Dearborn Cardiology, bringing the total grants that students and teachers will receive to $100,000.
The gala is scheduled to take place at the Byblos Banquet Center in Dearborn, on May 11. The scholarships will be distributed to 26 high school graduate students from Dearborn, Fordson and Edsel Ford High Schools in Dearborn and Crestwood High School in Dearborn Heights. Four teachers will be awarded $1,000 each as a token of appreciation for their efforts this school year from the aforementioned high schools.
The student will be awarded a total of $96,000, divided into four categories: Three students will receive $10,000 each, seven students will receive $5,000 each, 10 students will receive $2,500 each and six students will receive $1,000 each.
Last year, Huntington Bank in partnership with The Arab American News distributed the total of $75,000 for 20 students who met the criteria for the “F.L.I.P. Scholarship program. As for this year’s F.L.I.P. Scholarship program, Huntington Bank increased its contribution to $80,000, while Dearborn Cardiology donated an additional $20,000 to the program.
The Future Leaders in Progress (F.L.I.P.) Scholarship program targets high school students with a GPA of at least 2.5 and who have a good attendance rate for their school classes, in preparation for graduation this spring. In addition to writing an essay about their personal experiences, their future aspirations and their involvement in social and community activities, a recommendation from their counselor or teacher is also a requirement.
The scholarship amount that ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 is determined through a system of points including the students’ grade point average, attendance rate, quality of the essays submitted, personal behavior assessment, teacher or counselor testimonials and social and community engagements. The higher the number of points, the higher the scholarship amount.
Family financial status and other scholarships or grants are also important factors in the amount of the granted scholarship.
The F.L.I.P. Scholarship program is designed to help and encourage high school students to pursue higher education, despite the often hard economic conditions which constitutes an obstacle for the students of low-income families. The program requires awardees to pursue their higher education through American colleges or universities, as the scholarships will be paid directly to the college or university they have been accepted by and will be attending.
Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, and Gary Torgow, chairman of Huntington Bank, designed the F.L.I.P. Scholarship program, taking into account evolving forms of undergraduate education and educational needs in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, which witnessed multiple generations of immigrants who achieved academic and professional success over the years.
Over the past few months, faculty in the Dearborn and Crestwood School Districts have nominated 178 students. Of those, 33 students were selected for a final review by a committee of educators and contributors who eventually settled on 26 students. Selected students were interviewed by a committee, including Torgow, Siblani, Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko, Crestwood Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam, Huntington Bank executive Katarina Flathau and Dr. Ashok Kondur from Dearborn Cardiology.
“Our participation in the F.L.I.P. Scholarships with The Arab American News and other wonderful partners is a privilege and honor,” Torgow said. “We are so thankful to have a small hand in the growth and success of so many outstanding young people.”
Huntington Bank has more than 1,100 branches and is considered one of the largest operating banks in the American Midwest region. It is headquartered in Ohio and has a new commercial headquarters in downtown Detroit.
Kondur and Dr. Elie Kassab, also of Dearborn Cardiology, expressed their keenness to sponsor the F.L.I.P. Scholarship program this year, giving back to the local community and helping students in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights to pursue higher education that will be in the interest of individuals, families and society as a whole.
Kondur stressed the importance of the involvement of local companies in the development and revitalization of the communities in which they operate, pointing out that, “investing in education is an investment in the future.” He expressed his aspiration to raise the financial contribution of Dearborn Cardiology next year.
For his part, Siblani expressed his gratitude to the sponsors of the F.L.I.P. Scholarship program and said he hopes that more companies, businesses, institutions and funders join in supporting the program in the coming years. He announced the activation of the Arab American Foundation, a licensed 501-C3 non-profit organization, that will take over the management of the F.L.I.P. Scholarship program, “to ensure continued investment in the future of our youth and help them shape their own future.” He suggested, in return, that “our community reciprocate this generosity by giving back and open their accounts at Huntington Bank.”
“The F.L.I.P. Scholarship is an outstanding program that supports students to take care of the financial side of their college aspirations,” Maleyko said. “The cost of college is astronomical and I am very grateful to Huntington Bank and The Arab American News for providing this financial commitment to our Dearborn students. The application process is fantastic and it includes a teacher nomination, a student written submission and an interview before a panel for some of the applicants. I am extremely proud of the students who apply for this scholarship and who participate in the interviews as it is rewarding for me as superintendent to hear their stories and to decide how to help them with these financial awards. In addition, education is a very noble profession and I am excited that this year teachers will also receive recognition and a financial award.”
“Since the inception of the F.L.I.P. Scholarship program in 2022, Crestwood Public Schools students have had an opportunity of a lifetime to earn anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000,” Mosallam said. “This opportunity has not only assisted students to attend college with financial support but to open the doors of opportunity.
“In the last two years, The Arab American News and Huntington Bank have created these opportunities through their selfless efforts to assist students to reach their dreams,” he added. “Their genuine goal to give to the community is not only evident from the inception of the scholarship, but the fact that in the second year of the scholarship they doubled the scholarship opportunities.
“The Crestwood Schools and the community at large thank The Arab American News, Huntington Bank and the newest donor to the scholarship fund, Dearborn Cardiology, for their continued support of our youth and our community.”