Flint, MI — The Flint Kiwanis Club gifted $27,000 to a tuition assistance program of the FIM Flint School of Performing Arts (FSPA) this week.

The donation, which came from the club’s Joanne Piper Memorial Fund, was presented on Oct. 23, 2023, at the J. Dallas Dort Music Center. It will go toward FSPA’s Seeing Stars! Tuition Assistance Program, which began in 1997 and assists students without adequate financial resources to study at the performing arts school. 

According to a FIM press release on Oct. 24, awards through the Seeing Stars! program range from 20 to 90 percent of the tuition cost for two classes per semester.

The same release further explained the Joanne Piper Memorial Fund, which is named for the second woman initiated into the Flint Kiwanis Club. Piper was an active Flint community member who passed away in 2020, leaving a bequest to the club to award to three organizations over three years.

“We wanted her gift to make a real impact on kids and families in Flint,” said Flint Kiwanis Club President Kimberly Mills Shelby of the club’s donation. “There are many ways of doing it, but giving it as scholarships so kids who can’t afford it can get dance, theatre and music lessons… I don’t think there’s anything better.”

The club began awarding Piper’s bequest last year, with its first gift going to Communities First, Inc., a local affordable housing developer, for a learning lab space

“We’re very thankful to the Kiwanis Club for this generous gift that will provide talented young musicians, dancers and actors the opportunity to reach their goals,” said Davin Pierson Torre, FSPA Director and FIM Vice President of Performing Arts Instruction. “Approximately 400 students receive support from Seeing Stars every year. I believe this would’ve made Joanne very happy.”