Mildred A. Ellis Scholarship Fund

The objective of the Mildred A. Scholarship is to provide assistance to those young people who have overcome adversities while demonstrating the academic and social potential to succeed.


After earning a B.A. from West Virginia State College in 1944, and a Master’s of Social Work Degree from the University of Michigan (both with honors), Mildred Alexander Ellis joined the Detroit Public Schools as a visiting teacher, a position which has since been renamed School Social Worker. In 1978 she was promoted to Supervisor of Region Eight School Social Workers. In 1983 she was appointed Director of the Office of School Social Work Services. She was the third person and the first African-American to hold that position.

Mrs. Ellis was affiliated with many organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., NAACP, and the National Association of Social Workers. She served on the board of directors at Hawthorne Center, Wayne County Mental Health, and the Michigan Association of Emotionally Disturbed Children.

Among her many attributes was her genuine concern for and dedication to the academic and social achievement of Detroit Public School students. In honor of Mrs. Ellis, the Mildred A. Ellis Scholarship Fund was established by Detroit School Social Workers during the 1989-90 school year. The first awards were presented in June, 1991 when four students received a total of fifteen hundred dollars. The program reached its zenith in 2001 when eleven students received a total of twenty-two thousand dollars.

One hundred and forty Detroit Public School students have received one hundred and eighty-eight thousand, five hundred dollars since the program’s inception. These monies have been made possible by the voluntary individual contributions of Detroit School Social Workers (those retired and those currently working), their family members and friends, members of the Ellis family, staff members for the Office of Psychological Services.

Many recipients have gone on to higher learning, Waverly Duck, PhD, Sericka Rice, PhD and Josha Talison who is currently a Detroit Public School teacher.

Who Can Apply?

  • Detroit Public High School graduates
  • Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher
  • Students must present proof of acceptance to a four-year college or university or an accredited post secondary technical school. Monies are disbursed upon enrollment
  • Relatives of Detroit School Social Workers are ineligible for these funds.

Application Process

  • Complete the application form
  • Submit three (3) letters of recommendation, two (2) of which must be from school personnel (administrator, counselor or teacher)
  • Submit a brief, typewritten autobiographical sketch explaining obstacles overcome as well as career goals
  • Submit an official transcript