Giving Back: Dr. Robert S. Shumake And The Scholarship Relays

By Tony McCllean
Updated: April 15, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — As a child growing up in Michigan, Dr. Robert S. Shumake quickly learned to deal with adversity. However, despite dealing with poverty and homelessness at such a young age, Shumake used his plight to make him stronger.

Now as the founder and president of Inheritance Investment Group, a Michigan based real estate investment and development firm, the Detroit native has more than carved his own niche in the business world.

Dr. Shumake also founded the real estate and business corporation, First Equity Holdings in 1996. Since then, First Equity Holdings managed and sold 85% of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inventory in the state of Michigan with sales of approximately 80 million dollars.

However, he’s never shied away from his first love – running. Dr. Shumake attributes many of his business achievements to the positive experiences he had as a all city performer in Detroit’s Edwin Denby High School’s track team.

“Track actually helped to save my life”, Shumake added. “It taught me discipline and how to fight for what you really believe in. I always said if I ever made it, I would give back”.

Last year, he began the Robert S. Shumake Scholarship Relays in Detroit. The event serves an opportunity for him to help young people realize their goals by spotlighting student athletes and serving the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

“One of the most impactful moments for me as an athlete was traveling around the country competing in several major track meets”, said Shumake.

“Yet when I would get back to Detroit, I realized that we had talented track athletes but we didn’t have a major meet here to call our own or to showcase our best track athletes”.

Using his business influence to call on some of his friends, Dr. Shumake and others quickly developed the event. Working in conjunction with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) of Detroit and the Freedom Institute, the Shumake Relays are unprecedented in that it has a dual focus.

The competition highlights both athletic ability and academic achievement. In addition to teams demonstrating superior athletic ability during the events of the day, prizes are awarded to the athlete on each team with the highest grade point average.

“Track and field helped to provide me with the opportunity to get into college,” said Shumake, who attended Ferris State University and Morehouse College. In just a short time, the Shumake Relays have grown and gained momentum.

The Freedom Institute has made the relays a part of their annual Freedom Week activities attended by thousands of Detroit residents. In addition, the UNCF branch in Detroit is working with the relays to administer the Robert S. Shumake Relay Scholarship.

Last year, over 400 athletes (boys and girls) representing over 20 teams participated in this track and field event. This year’s event, which will take place at Martin Luther King High on April 29th, an estimated 40 teams will participate with over 1,500 athletes.

Also, Dr. Shumake has written “For Entrepreneurs Who Considered Suicide When Business Got Tough” for individuals looking to achieve their entrepreneurial and financial dreams.

All of the proceeds from Dr. Shumake’s book go to support his scholarship program. “Our immediate goal is to raise at least $1,000,000 to help send kids to college,” Shumake added.

“When we began last year, we wanted to be the largest meet in Detroit and we achieved that. This year, we want to be the largest meet in the state. Next year, we want to be the largest meet in the Midwest. We want to grow and grow as the years go on”.

Judging by the support they’ve received and the drive of Dr. Shumake, the sky and beyond is the limit.

NOTE: For more information on the relays, log on to For more on Dr. Shumake, log on to