Ypsilanti-based streetwear store Puffer Reds
will celebrate Black Music Month in June with an art contest that could net a high school student a $4,500 scholarship.
Puffer Reds is partnering with Adidas and Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) for the contest, which is open to students across Washtenaw County. The top prize of a $4,500 scholarship goes to the winner in the high school category, while the winning middle school student will take home a $500 gift certificate for Adidas clothes and shoes, good only at Puffer Reds. The winning elementary school student will receive a $200 gift certificate good for Adidas shoes, good only at Puffer Reds.
Puffer Reds owner Eric Williams says the theme of the contest grew from the fact that Puffer Reds started off as a music store in 1979, the same year President Jimmy Carter declared June Black Music Month
Williams says he originally wanted to do something for local students as part of Black History Month, but it took longer to come together than planned, so he and his staff decided to create a contest honoring Black music.
"It's a little something to give back to the community, to give back to the students and help them [learn] a little history," Williams says.
Taryn Willis, marketing and communications coordinator for YCS, calls Puffer Reds a "huge staple in Ypsilanti" and notes that the store has partnered with YCS many times before this to support local students.
Students can submit an entry in any medium, from graphic design to a musical composition to a painting or drawing, as long as the theme is "Black Music Month - Art in Music."
"We wanted to come up with a concept that would allow students to be creative," Willis says. "The fact you can get a $4,500 scholarship is a huge deal for students in the area."
The scholarship winner can use the scholarship at the college or university of their choice. Willis notes that $4,500 would pay for about one and a half years' worth of tuition at Washtenaw Community College (WCC).
"With the economic troubles families may be having, this could be a great opportunity for a student to continue their education at almost no cost," Willis says.
Willis says she hopes the scholarship program will continue on a yearly basis.
Contest entries are due by 8 p.m. June 11 either by drop-off at the YCS Administration building at 1885 Packard Rd. in Ypsilanti, or digitally at www.pufferreds.com/bmm
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.