Several Eastpointe Community Schools alumni were recognized Oct. 18 for their work in forming the Hillside Foundation and donating $10,000 to the school district.

Several Eastpointe Community Schools alumni were recognized Oct. 18 for their work in forming the Hillside Foundation and donating $10,000 to the school district.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Eastpointe alumni donate $10,000 to school district

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 30, 2018


EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe Community Schools district’s investment in its students is paying off — literally.

A group of district alumni who graduated from East Detroit High School, now Eastpointe High School, between 2002 and 2005 have formed a group called the Hillside Foundation to provide money for the school district from a golf tournament.

“The golf tournament started with 12 people — just a group of friends,” said foundation member Mike Richard. “We joked it was because we were all so competitive and we wanted a way to keep competing once we got old.”

The tournament has now grown to more than 50 people each year, consisting of fellow Eastpointe alumni and friends and family of the Hillside Foundation members.

“My son, who was on the school board previously, went to school with the (foundation members) and took part in the golf outing, and we all got to talking about it,” said Eastpointe Community Schools Board of Education President Jon Gruenberg. “I pointed them to talk to the superintendent to see how we could best move forward with this idea.”

The alumni formed the foundation to facilitate this goal, and on Oct. 18, donated $10,000 to the school district. The money came from the foundation members along with donations they solicited from local businesses.

“We’ve all done OK for ourselves and have been fortunate, and we wanted to pay it forward,” said foundation member Vincent Amalfitano.

The group of friends met at a district after-school program called RAP — the Recreational After-school Program. It was this program that inspired them to choose to give back to the school district. 

The program has since been shut down, but the Hillside Foundation members are hoping their donation can help make it, and similar programs, available once more to students.

“We thought it would be good to build the youth in the place where we built our own friendship,” said board member Matthew Fulgenzi. “It was common ground we all had.”

School district officials were  thrilled with the donation, and the school board hosted a special session to recognize the foundation members so that all the members could be in attendance, as some now live out of state.

District officials have not yet decided exactly where the money will go, but they’re confident it can fulfill the foundation’s goal of supporting additional after-school and athletics programming.

“Any time we get donations, we try to work with (the donors) to put it toward something they particularly care about,” said Eastpointe Superintendent Ryan McLeod.

“We’re thinking about putting this initial money into a special fund until we can work with the guys to decide how to best use it,” said Gruenberg. “They’ve been expressing interest in after-school programming, so that is the most likely result.”

The foundation now plans to use the tournament as a fundraising tool each year and give the proceeds to different aspects of the school district.

“We’re early in the process, but the school district is something we all feel passionate about,” said Richard. “We want to raise $30,000 next year. We want to create a $10,000 male athlete scholarship, a $10,000 female athlete scholarship, and use the other $10,000 to continue to grow athletics and after-school programs.”

District administrators said the donation was particularly meaningful since it came from alumni. 

“There’s always the question when students graduate and leave whether they will come back,” remarked Gruenberg. “These guys really held on to their roots. They’ve all gone on to do different things, but came back and gave back.”