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The Skillman Foundation and Parade Company announce Detroit student winner of the 32nd annual Skillman Foundation Float Design contest

“Together We Shine” Float Designed by University Prep Art & Design Elementary 4th Grader to Debut in America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White 

DETROIT – (13 November 2023) – The Skillman Foundation and The Parade Company today announced 4th grade student Aaliyah Crowder, from University Prep Art & Design Elementary in Detroit, as grand-prize winner of the 32nd Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest. The float designed by Crowder, titled “Together We Shine” will make its way down Woodward Avenue during America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White. Five Detroit students were awarded honorable mentions, and their incredible work will be displayed around the border of the float.  

Five Detroit students were awarded honorable mentions, and their incredible work will be displayed around the border of the float. From left to right: Kayla Gadie (8th grade), Aaliyah Crowder (4th grade), Skylar Sowell (4th grade), Trinity Russell (8th grade), Simone Dixon (4th grade), and Angelique Power, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation.

“Today we get to see incredible student art, we get a special preview of this year’s Skillman float, and we meet the brilliant young Detroiters who have shared their talents and vision with us,” said Angelique Power, president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “Getting a glimpse into how young people envision the future is a true kickoff to the holiday season, reflecting on what is and designing what could be.” 

Grand prize winner, Aaliyah Crowder (4th grade), seeing her float for the first time with president and CEO, Angelique Power.

“The Skillman Foundation float unveil is one of our favorite days every year,” said Tony Michaels, president & CEO of The Parade Company. “It is so exciting to celebrate the creativity of these talented young student artists from our city. We can’t wait to debut the ‘Together We Shine’ float on Woodward Avenue this Thanksgiving morning.” 

This year’s Skillman Foundation Float Contest theme, “Kids Can Change the World!” encouraged students to design the change they’d like to make for the world. Crowder’s float, “Together We Shine” features a 10-foot globe, colorful rainbow and a nearly 10-foot beautiful representation of the artist herself. The float highlights positive messages like Be Brave, Shine, Love,We are a Community and We Work Together. All Honorable Mention drawings are displayed on a skirt encircling the float. 

Hundreds of Detroit middle school students in grades four through eight entered this year’s Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the partnership between The Parade Company and The Skillman Foundation which inspires young artists by giving them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their vision come to life as a parade float.  

Five honorable mention winners were also selected and include:  

  • Simone Dixon, 4th grade, Bates Academy, “World Peace” 
  • Kayla Gadie, 8th grade, Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, “Kids Can Change the World” 
  • Genesis Pope, 7th grade, Bates Academy, “Peace World” 
  • Trinity Russell, 8th grade, Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, “Kids Can Change the World” 
  • Skylar Sowell, 4th grade, John R. King Academic and Performing Arts Academy, “You Can Change the World 

The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that has granted out over $750 million across its 63-year history. Its grantmaking and advocacy is shaped by the rising Generation Z and their calls to transform the education system. The Foundation locks arms with Detroit youth and their allies to design an education system that nurtures the genius and well-being of all students—a system of schools and out-of-school programs where all young people are supported to be creative and collaborative problem solvers who forge a new destiny for us all. 

Voted as America’s Number One Holiday Parade by USA TODAY, America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White takes place on Thursday, November 23. This year’s Parade theme is “A Heart of History.” 

WDIV-Local 4’s live coverage begins at 6 a.m. with pre-parade coverage, followed by a parade pre-show beginning at 9 a.m. America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White will air live on WDIV-Local 4 from 10 a.m. – noon, including a one-hour syndicated national broadcast from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. reaching more than 185 television markets across the country. 760 WJR and Audacy WOMC 104.3 also broadcast parade shows. 

A series of exciting announcements will follow in the coming weeks. For more information, visit theparade.org

The Skillman Foundation

The Skillman Foundation is a grantmaking organization established in 1960 by Rose Skillman. We have granted out more than $730 million and have served as a vocal advocate to strengthen K-12 education, afterschool programming, child-centered neighborhoods, youth and community leadership, and racial equity and justice.

We are in the process of developing a new strategic framework, co-designed with Detroit youth and their champions.

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