Alexis Lenderman-Black is a scholarship all star. In undergrad, she earned over $200,000 in scholarships, including three scholarships from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF). After graduating from Western Michigan University with dual degrees in Entrepreneurship and Global & International Studies, she hoped to help other youth -- specifically first-generation students and foster youth -- graduate debt-free.

In 2016, she co-founded The Scholarship Expert with her now-husband, Justin Black, using her skills to support students and families searching for money for college. After re-launching The Scholarship Expert in December 2019, the couple released The Perfect College Student Planner and The Scholarship Blueprint book, workbook, and course.

Alexis says it took a community of support to get her where she is today.

"We do not believe that anyone is self-made," says Alexis. "We all must rely on others to be successful or to ‘share the load’ as my Seita Scholars Program coach puts it. With resources like [scholarships], we were able to expand our world view (literally) through our 13 study abroad programs while co-developing two brand new study abroad programs."

Alexis and her husband share in-depth about their journey in their book "Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat the Odds and Discovered Healing Happiness and Love." Their book and business ventures challenge individuals to reflect on the development of their identity while unraveling the barriers and insecurities that have impacted their families for generations. Alexis believes this can encourage growth and prosperity on the individual and community level, both personally and professionally.

"It is our hope that through challenging others, accountability and inspiration, we can help to change the narrative of families and communities," says Alexis. "We all have skills, abilities and talents to serve our community and make a difference. Organizations like KZCF are sowing seeds into our lives so that this may be possible.

Kalamazoo Community Foundation recently launched its Emergency Scholarship Fund for students in need of books, course materials, testing fees, tuition assistance, etc. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

This article was featured in the latest issue of our UPDATE newsletter.
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