Janet and Charlie Lieb: Phuture Phoenix friends from the beginning

For Janet and Charlie Lieb, involvement with UW-Green Bay’s signature Phuture Phoenix program came naturally.

Janet Lieb already was a volunteer at Green Bay’s Jefferson Elementary School, where program co-founders Ginny Riopelle and Cyndie Shepard got the idea for Phuture Phoenix in 2002. Riopelle is a friend of the Liebs, and the community-oriented nature of the program appealed to husband and wife alike.

“I started from the very beginning, helping to get the field trip day going — and I’ve been participating ever since,” said Janet Lieb, a 1993 UW-Green Bay graduate. “The most important thing is, it’s a community-based program — and the community really feels that involvement.”

Early involvement has become ongoing passion for the pair, who have given generously of time and treasure ever since. In 2008, they endowed the Janet and Charles Lieb Phuture Phoenix Scholarship, which provides assistance for UW-Green Bay students who participated in the program as children. They have continued to be heavily involved as volunteers, both during the annual fall tour days and in the Phuture Phoenix offshoots and upstarts that continue to develop in area schools. Janet was instrumental in starting the primary program at Jefferson, which builds school-wide excitement for college from kindergarten on. And both remain committed to ensuring all Phuture Phoenix students have scholarships available if they choose to attend UW-Green Bay — as many do.

“The scholarship money has to be there to support them,” Charlie Lieb said. “They have a great retention rate of students who have stayed in school. It’s working very well but as more and more kids become exposed to it, we’ve got to have the funding to support them.”

The number of Phuture Phoenix scholarships awarded has grown significantly since the first students became eligible, with 15 Phuture Phoenix scholars attending UW-Green Bay in 2011 — more than twice as many scholarship holders as the year prior. In 2012, 21 students received program scholarships, and that number was 24 for 2013. Janet is the Phuture Phoenix Scholarship Chair, and both remain committed to funding the future of Phuture Phoenix.

Funding — and friending.

“I wouldn’t miss fall tour day,” Janet said. “Just the enthusiasm — they’re just mesmerized by the whole experience. It’s just a great, great day.”

Added Charlie: “It’s the opportunity for kids to dream about going to college — kids who would’ve never considered it before. This shows them it is possible.”