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North Hills Monthly

Markie’s Mission to Provide Scholarships to Aspiring Young Artists

May 31, 2016 12:32PM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe

Markie Russell

When Markie Russell was 7, she decided to donate the dance shoes that she had outgrown to kids who might need them. This one simple act sparked a desire to find a bigger way to help kids who might not have the resources to pay for dance classes and other performing arts training. 

Two years later, Markie is the president of Markie’s Mission: Make Performing Possible, a soon-to-be nonprofit organization aimed at providing scholarships for kids interested in the arts. “Markie has always had a generous streak,” explained mom Bridget Russell. 

Markie, who is the reigning America Pennsylvania West Jr. Pre-Teen 2016, has held a food drive and a pet food drive in lieu of gifts for her birthday, as well as conducted a food drive every November for Killian’s Cupboard. She now sits on their board and is an active participant in the organization.

But Markie’s Mission is more than a single drive—it is a way for Markie to combine her passion for dance, music and performing with her charitable nature. “Markie really loves dance and was saddened by the thought that there were girls who would like to dance and couldn’t because of money,” explained Bridget. 

When her parents offered her the opportunity to start a nonprofit, Markie jumped at the chance.  “Dancing has made me strong and healthy and performing arts has helped me be creative and have fun…every kid should have a chance to have these kinds of things in their lives!” enthused Markie.

The primary goal of Markie’s Mission is to provide scholarships for any child interested in any type of performing arts—including dance, theater, voice and music—who is unable to afford the classes, camps, lessons or supplies. “We want to help those who may not qualify for other kinds of support but who may still need financial assistance,” explained Bridget. “I know so many people who work hard every day just to make ends meet, and the extra $50 bucks per month is just not doable.” 

The organization hopes to support one or two children in 2016. Bridget strongly encourages all students to apply by emailing There is an application process, and the organization uses Pennsylvania reduced lunch guidelines as a parameter. The board reviews all applications and Markie, as president, has the final say on awards. 

Markie’s Mission is in the final stages of becoming a 501c3 nonprofit, which will allow it to fundraise on a greater scale so that it can offer more scholarship money. The organization’s future goals will depend on the amount of money raised, but it hopes to provide at least two students with scholarships of up to $1,000 per season. “It is my goal to give all kids a chance to be creative and active through performing,” said Markie. 

“We are so proud of her,” added Bridget. “It is such a tremendous opportunity for her to understand the importance of giving back to her community.”    n