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Packers Foundation grant helps Phuture Phoenix program reach younger students

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The Green Bay Packers Foundation will help the Phuture Phoenix program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay promote college awareness to even younger students at high-needs elementary schools.

Phuture Phoenix on Tuesday (Feb. 12) was awarded a $4,000 grant, which is intended to replicate a pre-college pilot currently running at Green Bay’s Jefferson Elementary School at another Brown County elementary school. Typically, Phuture Phoenix programming begins at the fifth-grade level. This grant will extend the college awareness efforts to the kindergarten through fourth-grade levels, as well. Phuture Phoenix was one of 145 organizations to receive financial support from the Packers, announced during a Tuesday event.

Phuture Phoenix is a program that supports and encourages students to continue their education beyond grade 12. UW-Green Bay college students serve as role models for the younger students and continue contact with them through the middle and high school years, mentoring and motivating them to continue on to a university, college or technical college of their choice.

“Although many pre-college programs have been developed to help students make their way to college, most are aimed toward changes in students rather than changes in the school,” said Kim Desotell, Director for Phuture Phoenix. “To ensure all students are receiving the message that they can have choices and options for their future, we need to focus on the entire school’s values and beliefs about their students, even as early as elementary school.”

Within the Jefferson pilot program, each elementary school classroom “adopts” a university or college and displays symbols of that campus including mascots, campus colors and signs. Each Friday is recognized as “College Day,” with students and staff wearing college T-shirts. “College Awareness” assemblies are held and parents receive information at the start of the school year introducing the program. Fifth-grade graduation/promotion includes Phuture Phoenix certificates and scholarship information.

The program helps the school develop a tangible college awareness attitude and culture aimed at helping students set a goal for college attendance at a two-year or four-year campus upon high school graduation. The grant announced Tuesday will help provide funding for T-shirts, educational materials and professional development for school staff.

Phuture Phoenix partners with the Green Bay Title I elementary schools and with the West De Pere and Oneida Nation school districts. Elementary schools in Bonduel, Bowler, Menominee Nation, Oconto, Oconto Falls, Suring and Sturgeon Bay also participate through an outreach program. Each year, the UW-Green Bay campus hosts more than 1,400 fifth-graders at a Phuture Phoenix Day event, allowing youngsters to experience University life first hand. The program has served 11,400 fifth-graders since its inception in 2003.

The Packers Foundation awarded $450,000 this year to 145 civic and charitable groups throughout the state. For more information on Phuture Phoenix, visit www.uwgb.edu/phuturephoenix/.

To see the complete Packers news release, click here.

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