Foundation awards grant to Winning Futures

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published October 3, 2018


WARREN — In 1994, local entrepreneur Sam Cupp found a way to help high school students who needed extra support. 

He started Winning Futures, a Warren-based nonprofit organization in which trained mentors visit students regularly at their schools to work on life skills, goal setting and teamwork activities.

Cupp died in 2012, but Winning Futures has grown over the years. This school year, 175 mentors have signed on to mentor 500 students at Warren Mott High School and Community High School, of Warren Consolidated Schools; Harper Woods High School; Cass Tech and Mumford high schools in Detroit; Madison High School in Madison Heights; and Pontiac Academy for Excellence.

On Sept. 25, Winning Futures announced that the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation had awarded the organization a $150,000 grant award. The grant will be spent over a two-year period. 

The  Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation, based in West Bloomfield, works with organizations to create opportunity, have community impact, and promote well-being in the areas of health, youth and family, and animal welfare. 

The grant money will support core expenses for implementing a new program this year called Workforce Prep. According to Winning Futures representatives, Workforce Prep will better prepare students for life after high school. The program is designed to empower them with the skills, knowledge and motivation they will need to realize a purposeful and sustaining career.

“We are very pleased to support Winning Futures and the Workforce Prep program that empowers students while supporting their growth,” Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Executive Director Virginia Romano said in a prepared statement. 

Winning Futures President and CEO Kristina Marshall said that in 2016, Winning Futures organizers reached out to business leaders and educators to discuss the future of the workforce. After conducting research on the subject, it was determined that many of today’s current jobs might not exist in the near future. 

With that in mind, Winning Futures representatives knew they needed to find ways to prepare students for such changes so they could transition into other positions within their chosen professions or work in other fields. Workforce Prep, to be implemented this school year, was created to provide students with critical workplace skills and hands-on experience. 

Through in-class mentoring and leadership, Workforce Prep will focus on skill development, job shadowing and internships. The Winning Futures mentors visit with the students once a week for one hour during the school day. The mentors meet in small groups with three students at a time.

Marshall herself was a student who went through the Winning Futures program. Cupp was her mentor.

“Sam was an amazing man,” she said. “He was very inspiring. He was always coaching, teaching and mentoring.”

For more information on Winning Futures, visit