Giving Back: A life dedicated to creating educational opportunities for Flint youth

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"Giving Back" is a new series of stories authored by the Alumni Relations team that focuses on the volunteerism, philanthropy, and engagement of UM-Flint alumni.
"Giving Back" is a new series of stories authored by the Alumni Relations team that focuses on the volunteerism, philanthropy, and engagement of UM-Flint alumni.

Teacher. Pioneer. Civil rights advocate. Entrepreneur. Award winner. Expert baker. Debater. Advanced degree holder. Style setter. Centenarian. U-M alumnae. Philanthropist.

There are probably very few people who can lay claim to all of these titles. However, Lois E. Holt could and did until she passed away earlier this year. Lois was 101 years old.

As the first African-American to hold a professional position with the Flint Community Schools following her graduation from Wilberforce University, Lois went on to have several distinguished careers in this community. She was active in many community organizations including the NAACP, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Organization for African-American Unity and Woodside Church. She and her husband Edgar went on to start businesses that imported and exported to Nigeria in the 60s and again in the late 70s.  Their life choices embodied the activism that defined the Holts.

Lois E. Holt
Lois E. Holt

Lois Holt’s desire to improve educational opportunities for young people of Flint was not only evident in her early employment as a teacher and social worker in the Flint schools, but also crossed into her personal life, when she and Edgar would serve as a host family for students from Africa studying at state colleges in Michigan. After Edgar’s death, Lois founded the Edgar B. and Lois Van Zandt Holt Endowed Scholarship at UM-Flint. Over 150 students have been beneficiaries of this fund. Simply put, Lois and Edgar made it much more likely that these students would reach graduation. These students and those who will follow are symbolic of their legacy.

The African-American community of Flint has been generous in establishing scholarships. In addition to the Holt fund, scholarships named for other prominent African-Americans have benefitted UM-Flint alumni. These funds include those named for Odell Broadway, Sylvester Broome Jr., Floyd J. McCree, Annie Mae Pointer, and Dr. Douglas L. Wright. Together, these endowments now approach $1 million in market value.

This year, the committee responsible for the awarding of these scholarships celebrates thirty-one years of service. Under the leadership of Mary Coleman, this dedicated group of volunteers ensures that the legacy established by Lois Holt and others carries on for generations to come.

If you want more information about these funds, or if you would like to add to the legacy of pioneers like Lois Holt, or pay tribute to more than thirty years of service by Mary Coleman and the scholarship committee, click https://leadersandbest.umich.edu/find/#!/flint/flint-impact/engagementto find information about each fund.

Brent is the Alumni Relations Manager in the Office of University Advancement. Contact him with questions related to alumni programs, activities, and services.