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Mentoring program for middle school students receives grant for 2012

Posted on Feb 21, 2012
A partnership between UW-Superior and the Superior public schools receives a grant to continue for another year.
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Mentoring program for middle school students receives grant for 2012

A program that brings together Superior Middle School students and mentors from the University of Wisconsin-Superior will continue for another year after receiving a grant of more than $90,000 from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation in Madison.

The grant funds UW-Superior's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness in Superior, or GEARS. The program provides Superior Middle School students with academic help along with  the means to see higher education as a possibility.      

"With University of Wisconsin System budget cuts last year, our future was uncertain. With this grant we can continue to build awareness and connections between UW-Superior and the community," said Julie Schmidt, the university's GEARS program coordinator.

"The GEARS program's focus on academic enrichment plays a crucial role in helping disadvantaged students prepare for -- and succeed in -- postsecondary education," said Amy Kerwin, Great Lakes' Chief Educational Opportunities Officer. "We are pleased to provide funding to support the expansion of their services and the continued collaboration with Superior Middle School." 

Through its Community Investments program, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. funds programs that foster workforce development and improve economic competitiveness by increasing the number of disadvantaged students who start and complete a postsecondary degree or certificate.

The GEARS program trains UW-Superior students to become tutors and mentors. The university students are matched with selected Superior sixth-graders to tutor them on academic subjects, and to connect them and their families to cultural and recreational activities at UW-Superior. The mentors work with these students as they progress through school.

The primary goal of GEARS is to enable the university student mentors to help the young students succeed in middle school, to attend and graduate from high school, and to consider pursuing higher education through a university or technical college.

The GEARS program is a productive partnership that is benefitting students at both schools.

 "The partnership between the School District of Superior and UW-Superior to support the needs of our middle school students is a great example of the dedication we have in preparing our students for a successful future," said Janna Stevens, superintendent of Superior's public schools. "The gains our students have made through the GEARS program is outstanding."

"The relationship that the GEARS students from Superior Middle School form with the trained mentors from UW-Superior is incredibly valuable," said Rick Flaherty, head principal for Superior Middle School. "Many of the middle school students who participate in the program have the potential to be first-generation college students within their families. The GEARS program helps them envision a future where post-secondary education is not so mysterious or unattainable. The Great Lakes award of financial support will make a difference in the lives of many kids within our Superior community."

The Great Lakes grant will be used to provide more mentors and to organize events for mentors and students, said UW-Superior's Schmidt.

"We need staff because we are growing every year. We add 30 middle school students annually, and that means we need at least 15 paid college mentors," she said. "Having the means to organize events is important because they provide a new experience for the middle school students and their mentors. Those events give the students opportunities to build social skills and to experience aspects of university life while bonding with their mentors and seeing them as positive role models."

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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