Even though the streets outside of the new Merit storefront were cold, the crowd of Ann Arbor residents and students from Detroit and the University created a buzz of excitement on South University Avenue.

Merit, which seeks to raise awareness about education issues through the commercialization of its clothing brand, was founded by University alum David Merritt.

Merit Goodness, Inc. is made primarily of two components, FATE mentorship and the Merit clothing line.

FATE, which is based at the University, pairs University students with students from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter high school on the Northwest side of Detroit founded by the former Michigan basketball player of its name. Merit, the business side, donates 20 percent of its revenue toward scholarships awarded to mentees who participate in FATE.

The store opened its doors South University Avenue earlier in the month, but officially joined the Ann Arbor business community in a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday night.

The ceremony began as Compulsive Lyres, a University a cappella group, performed outside of the storefront. University alum Kuhu Saha, founder of FATE, addressed the audience gathered on the sidewalk, thanking them for their support.

The ribbon was cut by Jan-Ida Ripton, a student at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Ripton told the crowd that the opportunities offered by the FATE program and that the promise of a $5,000 college scholarship, raised by Merit revenues, has encouraged her aspirations to attend New York University and study theater. Merritt gave remarks after Ripton’s address.

“When David and Kuhu first came to the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and talked about how the program would help students get to college, I was just awestruck and said, ‘I just need to enter this program,’ ” Ripton said. “I love the fact that we get to visit different organizations and businesses and get to go outside our community.”

LSA senior Emphani Aldridge, president of FATE, said the mentorship and outreach program has done its part by spreading the word through social media and other means.

“Part of our mission is to support the store,” Aldridge said. “The whole purpose is so that kids get scholarships … and get a chance to go to college.”

Ann Arbor resident Suzanne Upton, who has a daughter in high school, came to the opening to support the new business in the community.

“I think the way David put it — that you’re wearing a badge that supports something larger than yourself — is kind of cool,” Upton said.

Members of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce were also present at the event. Joey Blaszczyk, membership sales representative of the chamber, said he respects the fact that Merritt chose to return to Ann Arbor to establish his business.

“They give back so much to the youth, funding so many scholarships — really going out of the way to make them succeed is what makes them stand out,” Blaszczyk said.

Merritt said he wants to expand the store by opening an outlet in Detroit, which he predicts will happen in the next 12-to-18 months. Marketing the brand is a part of the process, and much of it will rely on getting word out to University students.

“So many of our U of M students are so dedicated to giving back, that we can connect with them on that, and know that we’re going to connect fashion-wise with a lot of students,” Merritt said. “We’re trying to get the best of both worlds — whichever hits the heart — so we can hopefully become a fabric of the community.”

Zingerman’s and Google, which have provided workshop to FATE mentees, have signed on as two of the 20 community partners supporting Merit.

— Anna Grant contributed reporting.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misidentified the president of FATE.

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