SOURCE: Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation

Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation

September 05, 2012 08:30 ET

Great Lakes Awards Grants to 14 Wisconsin Programs Improving College Completion

Students From Disadvantaged Backgrounds to Benefit From Specialized Services

MADISON, WI--(Marketwire - Sep 5, 2012) - Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation (Great Lakes) announced today that it has awarded $1.8 million in grants to 14 programs helping Wisconsin college students from disadvantaged backgrounds complete their degree, diploma, or certificate. Each recipient program will receive funding for services designed to strengthen the connection between these students and their campus or community, thereby improving persistence from semester-to-semester and year-to-year.

Studies show that students lacking socioeconomic or educational advantages -- including students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and those who are first in their families to attend college -- are the most likely to leave college before completion. Not only do these students miss out on the benefits of postsecondary education, they are more likely to face higher unemployment rates and earn less income over their lifetime than peers who complete. In addition, students who drop out of college often leave with student loans to repay, but no credential with higher corresponding earnings to meet the costs of monthly payments.

Programs funded by Great Lakes' Wisconsin Postsecondary Persistence Program Grants have developed specific strategies to address the unique challenges that their participating students face. Specialized services may include proactive advising, tutoring, mentoring, career exploration assistance, and placement in structured learning communities. The goal of each program is to increase their participants' re-enrollment rates compared to those of similarly situated peers. Program outcomes will be used to identify what works best in increasing persistence and, ultimately, college completion to inform Great Lakes' future funding decisions.

"We are pleased to partner with Wisconsin colleges, universities, and community-based organizations in their efforts to provide targeted services designed to help disadvantaged students finish their postsecondary education," said Richard D. George, Great Lakes' President and Chief Executive Officer. "The results-focused approaches these programs use can become models for programs elsewhere, and can help ensure that more students are able to reach their full potential."

Wisconsin Postsecondary Persistence Program Grants have been awarded through Great Lakes' philanthropic Community Investments program to the following recipients:

Alverno College, Milwaukee
Promise Scholars
Based on a successful pilot that featured a proactive advising model, this program has been awarded $151,425 to increase participation from 131 students to 250 first-generation students.

Carroll University, Waukesha
Project 2016
Students in this program, 40 incoming freshmen from low-income backgrounds, will meet weekly with an advisor, attend five workshops designed to connect them to on-campus resources, and receive academic help, thanks to this $62,527 grant.

College Possible, Milwaukee
College Program
College Possible uses a technology-based coaching model, making use of social media, social networking, and texting to connect participating students to campus resources, to each other, and to potential employers. More than 1,300 students from Wisconsin who are attending colleges across the country will benefit from this $255,904 grant.

Madison Area Technical College
Mentoring Minority Male Scholars Program (3MSP)
Through this program, 40 students of color will benefit from meeting monthly with a faculty or staff mentor, as well as being part of a strong learning community. A grant of $75,608 has been awarded to expand this program to female students.

Milwaukee Area Technical College
Student Support Retention Pathway (SSRP)
This program supports students who have been conditionally admitted, which means their standardized test scores do not meet the minimum requirements. Through the help of a $208,407 grant, 300 of these students will be paired with another student in the program, will receive tutoring, and will be required to attend workshops on topics such as study skills and test taking.

Mount Mary College, Milwaukee
Promise Plus
A $214,000 grant for this program, designed to address the non-academic challenges of staying in college, will expand services to 60 students. These students will be mentored by older students in the program using online and offline methods.

St. Norbert College, De Pere
Students Taking Academic Responsibility (STAR)
This program provides services to assist 35 first-year students of color in adjusting to their new environment and overcoming challenges they may face. Thanks to this $61,606 grant, students will be able to participate in weekly meals, study hours, and meetings throughout the year.

United Community Center, Milwaukee
Abriendo Puertas
This community-based program serves Latino undergraduates from low-income backgrounds attending Milwaukee-area universities. A $155,260 grant will help 150 students identify a career path and provide them with financial counseling, professional networking, and mentoring in partnership with the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee.

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Blugold Beginnings Learning Community for Underrepresented Students
A $148,108 grant will provide 40 students with placement in a peer group that attends classes together and has weekly meetings with a peer mentor and bi-weekly meetings with a faculty or staff coach.

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Commanding English
This program was created for students who show great potential, despite lower grade point averages and standardized test scores. The 22 participating students have been granted admission to UW-Eau Claire contingent upon participation in this one-year program. Students take skill-building classes and general education courses together as a learning community. A grant of $40,665 has been awarded to this program.

University of Wisconsin - Marathon County
Student Support Services (SSS)
Through this program, 165 students with lower grade point averages or standardized test scores will meet weekly with a learning strategy specialist, explore majors, and learn about ways to fund their education. Most of the key staff in this program, which has been awarded a $67,055 grant, are first-generation college students themselves.

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Life Impact Program
This $146,322 grant will help to serve 40 parent-students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students in this program, which provides services throughout their time at UW-Milwaukee, will be required to attend workshops and will have access to a team of life coaches, as well as a resource center.

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Student Support Services (SSS)
This $169,420 grant will help to expand the program to serve 150 additional students. These students will receive advising and peer support, and be part of small learning groups led by an experienced program student.

University of Wisconsin - Parkside
Project Success
A $51,272 grant will help this structured learning community provide career course and assessment help, placement in a reading and composition course, and tutoring to 50 students through a team of students, instructors, peer coaches, and advisors.

For more information on Great Lakes' Wisconsin Postsecondary Persistence Program Grants and other Community Investments initiatives, visit mygreatlakes.org/community or contact Amy Kerwin at akerwin@glhec.org or (608) 246-1785.

About Great Lakes and Community Investments
Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates helps millions of students pay for college and manage their student loans. Through Community Investments, Great Lakes funds programs that foster workforce development by increasing the number of disadvantaged students who start and complete a postsecondary degree or certificate. Since 2006, Great Lakes has committed nearly $74 million in funding to programs that share these goals. For additional information, visit mygreatlakes.org/community.