By Bill Griffiths
There is an exciting new program here in Racine to start some 8th graders thinking about college as a possibility and a goal. Each year 7th graders can apply and about 50 of them will have the opportunity to participate when they start the 8th grade. Other 7th graders can hope to get on the waiting list.
College Readiness 21 (CR21), which is about seven years old, first opened an office to serve Racine and Kenosha counties in January 2007. CR21 is administered by the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges (WFIC) located in Milwaukee, and is supported by foundations, grants, corporate and individual contributions. The goal is to help and encourage students, who may otherwise not have seriously considered college, to stay in Wisconsin for college and then perhaps become part of the talent pool for Wisconsin employers.
The program seeks out students living in Racine or Kenosha counties who are “first-generation college students” (whose parents have not graduated from a four-year degree program) and who currently qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. It is a five-year program that involves no cost for the students. The thought is that starting them in middle school increases their probability of completing the program, with the ultimate focus: helping the students be ready for college.
Today, according to the local program manager, Angela Peterson, a total of nearly 100 8th graders and high school freshman are now participating in the program here. In coming years, that will grow to approximately 250, as students progress through the five year program and new 8th graders enter.
There are a variety of components that CR21 offers, all designed to increase a student’s ability to successfully graduate from high school and then college. The program includes: supplemental academic mentoring and tutoring, guidance in developing life skills, time management skills and goal setting, coaching assistance to better prepare for ACT testing, several Saturday college tours each year, assistance in applying for college admissions, and scholarship opportunities through WFIC and others. For the fortunate students in the program, they start in the 8th grade and continue through four years of high school.
To learn more about the program, take a look at their website www.collegereadiness21.org or call the Racine and Kenosha Program Manager, Angela Peterson at 635-3852.