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Flint Kiwanis Club makes substantial gift to FIM tuition assistance program

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FLINT — The Flint Institute of Music (FIM) has received a generous gift to support one of its key educational programs.

On Oct. 23, the Flint Kiwanis Club presented the FIM Flint School of Performing Arts with a $27,000 donation for the school’s Seeing Stars! Tuition Assistance Program. Funds were provided by the Joanne Piper Memorial Fund by way of the Flint Kiwanis Club.

A reception for Joanne Piper’s family, along with a formal donation presentation, was held at the FIM’s J. Dallas Dort Music Center. Activities also included recognition of the Kiwanis for designating the gift to the Seeing Stars! Endowment and a short music selection by a Seeing Stars! student performer and tuition assistance recipient.

The Flint Kiwanis Club makes donations to organizations benefiting children every year, living up to the Kiwanis mission of “serving the children of the world.”

Piper, an active member of the Flint community, passed away in 2020, leaving a bequest to the Flint Kiwanis Club. She was the second woman initiated into the Flint Kiwanis Club and a founding member of the Flint Music in the Parks committee.

Piper’s bequest to the Flint Kiwanis Club will be gifted to three organizations over three years. Last year, the first gift was given to Communities First Inc. in the form of the Joanne Piper Learning Lab. The second gift is to the Flint School of Performing Arts (FSPA) in scholarships. The third donation will be made next year to another organization.

“We wanted her gift to make a real impact on kids and families in Flint,” said Flint Kiwanis Club President Kimberly Mills Shelby. “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. FSPA has always been one of the best organizations and programs for kids.”

The Seeing Stars! Tuition Assistance Program, started in 1997, is designed to assist students without adequate financial resources to study at FSPA. It is need-based and provides every qualified student who applies with assistance. Awards range from 20-90 percent of the tuition cost for two classes per semester.

“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, FIM Vice President of Performing Arts Instruction and FSPA Director. “Approximately 400 students receive support from Seeing Stars every year. I believe this would’ve made Joanne very happy.”