Legacy Portraits

Our Shining Lights

Roderick Fields, The Learning Network 2017 Participant

Roderick Fields Roderick Fields, a senior at University Preparatory Academy High School in Detroit is a young man destined for greatness! Affectionately called “Rod”, he has overcome several obstacles in his short lifespan. At a young age, he was diagnosed with ASD, a mild form of autism which made it difficult to develop friendships and resulted in becoming the subject of bullying. Roderick persevered through his challenges with the help of his supportive family, teachers, and mentors.

In 2017, Rod joined The Learning Network (TLN) Program and was one of the program’s star participants. He actively participated in the workshop activities and won several career readiness challenges. At the culmination of the program, he approached the advisory team to be a youth mentor to the 2018 TLN Class. Rod’s positive energy and personality captured the hearts of the Hot 107.5 FM Detroit hosts and was invited to discuss his story for overcoming bullying. Roderick aspires to be an Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist and he will plan to attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall. We salute Roderick and encourage him to press forward, achieve his dreams and CHANGE TOMORROW TODAYTM!

Click here to listen to an interview with Roderick Fields

Recognizing Local Heroes

Since 2011, the Torch of Wisdom Foundation hosts its annual Black-No Tie Affair, Honoring Local Heroes to raise awareness of local heroes whose actions support the foundation’s program focus on scholarship, cultural arts, and community enrichment. For its 7th year, due to an overwhelming response of nominees, the Foundation identified eight amazing finalists (two per category) to be considered for the 2017 Honoree in the categories of Emerging Hero, Scholarship, Cultural Arts, and Community Enrichment. We are pleased to announce the 2017 Honorees-


*Emerging Hero Honoree

Walter Ward III

Walter Ward III is a Detroit area native and creator of The Mobile Business School, which is a self-titled ‘”pop-up” MBA experience, remixed specifically for entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and creative professionals. All you have to do is sign up for access to the years of knowledge that Walter himself learned as an MBA student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Walter’s approach demystifies concepts like venture capitalism and his panelists help attendees understand new ways to engage the community when purchasing property in the city. To increase effectiveness of the Mobile B School curriculum, many tools and resources are readily accessible on the Internet. His program is intended to be fun, accessible and inspiring to a wide range of entrepreneurs, side-hustle extraordinaires and aspiring business leaders.

*Emerging Hero category highlights the achievements of younger adults who are already making an impact within their communities. These individuals are working in the core mission areas of Scholarship, Cultural Arts, and Community Enrichment.


Community Enrichment Honoree

Challenge Detroit

Challenge Detroit is a leadership and professional development program that invites approximately 30 of tomorrow’s leaders to live, work, play, give and lead in and around Greater Detroit for one year. The mission of Challenge Detroit is to challenge leaders to learn by doing through a year of meaningful employment intellectual work with area nonprofits designed to positively impact Detroit’s diverse, culturally vibrant city. Launched in 2012, Challenge Detroit has partnered with over seventy (70) regional companies, served 200,000 project hours and created over 175 jobs – generating $8 million dollars in economic value for the Detroit economy.


Scholarship Honoree

The Alpha Esquire MENtor Program

The Alpha Esquire MENtor Program, Metro Detroit provides positive male role models as mentors for young men in the eighth through the twelfth grade. The mentoring program teaches young men to be scholarly, have pride, provide service to the community, and love family. The Alpha Esquire Program is a beacon where young men are acknowledged for the good that they contribute to the world and allows them to be part of a positive energy in the community. The Alpha Esquires Program is in its 7th year and has a college attainment rate of 98%.


Cultural Arts Honoree

Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club

Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club (DFABC), co-founded by Henry Harper and Harold Braggs, give a space and place for artist, collectors, curators, art aficionados, and others to show, tell, and sell their goods and services, as well as make announcements about happenings in the art world and share beneficial information. DFABC is the largest art group in Metro Detroit, averaging an attendance of 80 to 125 on any given Monday.