Alumni Association Scholarship Helps Increase Diversity at the University of Michigan

Alumni Association Scholarship Helps Increase Diversity at the University of Michigan

Date: Jan. 20, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Michigan—As the University of Michigan steps up efforts to address racial diversity on campus, the Alumni Association continues to attract some of the nation’s most talented and qualified underrepresented students through the LEAD Scholars program.

The scholarship program helps exceptional students who are African-American, Hispanic, and Native American to attend the University. It also helps address gender diversity in University degree programs. Since the Alumni Association started the program in 2007, it has provided 177 scholarships to underrepresented students who are currently on campus or have graduated.

“Fortunately, the Alumni Association is uniquely positioned to build an alternate pathway to diversity at Michigan,” said Alumni Association President and CEO Steve Grafton. “We have a very strong partnership with the University, but we are a separately incorporated 501 (c) (3) organization that is uniquely positioned to help promote diversity at U-M.”

In 1995, enrollment of underrepresented students at U-M was at its highest level for the fifth straight year at nearly 25 percent. By 2005, the percentage had dropped to just over 13 percent. And in 2013, it’s down to less than 10 percent. To offer some perspective, the freshman class at the Ann Arbor campus has a total of 535 students who are African American, Hispanic American, or Native American.

LEAD—which stands for Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, Diversity—offers scholarships after students have been admitted to U-M. Student retention for LEAD Scholars is 100 percent, and the first cohort of 22 students graduated in 2012. The renewable scholarships provide from $2,500 up to $10,000 a year to incoming freshmen. For many recipients, this is the deciding factor for choosing Michigan over another school.

“We know … that some prospective underrepresented minority students who are accepted by the university choose to enroll elsewhere, and we recognize that we need to take action, within the law, to encourage those students to enroll here,” Provost Martha Pollack wrote in a recent letter to the U-M community, now published on the U-M website.

The Association is helping to change this trend, one class of LEAD Scholars at a time.

CONTACT: Brad Whitehouse, 734-763-4483,

The Alumni Association is working to increase the number of LEAD Scholars from 140 to 300 a year. Find out more about the fundraising goals for the program as part of our fundraising campaign.

Michigan Alumnus is made possible through the generous support of Alumni Association members. Join today to help sustain the future of Michigan Alumnus and other alumni programs. Visit