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Helping Each Other: Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation fundraises amid pandemic

Posted at 5:34 PM, May 04, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Living with great conviction is a legacy that one incredible Detroiter continues to teach us even after her passing. That teacher is the late civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

COVID-19 has put many things on hold, but celebrating our young scholars in unique ways is not one of them. 7 Action News Reporter Andrea Isom introduces you to three Rosa Parks Scholars.

One we met a few years ago when he was a little boy, with a big vision.

Rosa Parks was a Pioneer, a forward thinker, a woman of great passion and pride. She was a Detroiter determined to succeed while seeking justice and equality.

And Rosa Parks always made it her mission to help others do the same.

In 2012, a 9-old-boy named Joshua Smith embodied that same spirit. He demonstrated it as just a kid with lemonade stand in front of his home in Detroit.

“I just had a big idea,” Smith said.

More like a strong conviction, a grand and noble idea. Smith wanted to raise money to do something to save his city. And it didn’t matter what people thought about his plan.

Sound’s like Mrs. Parks, right?

Well, the the city of Detroit, the world and the Rosa Parks Scholarship foundation felt it, too.

“What 9-year-old really has the presence of mind and the empathy to say I want to contribute to my community in a meaningful way? We said then, when he was 9, we want him as a Rosa Parks Scholar,” says Kim Trent, Rosa Park Scholarship Foundation, president of the board of trustees.

“It’s a big deal honestly," Smith said. "All of the sudden to get this scholarship, it’s like mind-blowing and to get it when I was 9. I'm like 17 now. It’s been a long time. God is great."

Smith was home schooled. It was a decision his parents made together. He will attend Calvin University of Spring Arbor University where he will study ministry. And his mother, Rhonda Smith, could not be more proud.

“To get him to a point where he was able to graduate with honors and getting scholarships," Joshua's mom Rhonda said. "God is faithful and pretty amazing. I am just honored that the Lord choice me to be Joshua’s mom and to be on this journey with him."

The late Mrs. Park’s started the scholarship foundation in 1980.

This year marks its 40th anniversary, which is an absolutely remarkable milestone.

“We have such great plans for our gala," Trent said. "It was gonna be such a celebration 40 years of scholars, and I just hate that we can’t do it because of COVID-19."

The gala and luncheon had to be canceled, but the celebration will march on in a different way! So get ready!

“Because we have 1,300 alums, we want to ask them for $40 per alum," Trent said. "That will be enough to make sure, not only that we give our 40 scholarships this year but that we’ll be able to do it for the foreseeable future. We’re hoping that our scholars feel the same way."

So, the 40-day fundraising drive is officially underway and goes until June 9.

“This whole pandemic has really forced us to get out of our comfort zone and get creative with things,” Joshua said.

Let’s do it!

Rosa Parks Scholar Alums and everyone! Please let’s pitch in!

You can donate at

Or checks can be mailed to Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation:

160 W. Fort Street
Detroit, MI 48226

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