Manitowoc Lincoln and UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus announce pilot program—Rising Phoenix

New program extends pathways to higher education for high school students

Manitowoc, Wis.—The Rising Phoenix Early College High School Program is a collaboration between the Manitowoc Public School District and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus to provide Manitowoc Lincoln High School students the opportunity to get a head start on earning college credits while academically and personally preparing for college.

A formal announcement about the program was made to the Manitowoc Campus faculty and Lincoln High School staff on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

L to R: Bakic, Thennes, Samantha Post and Meagan Strehlow

“UW-Green Bay is proud to partner with the Manitowoc Public School District on the Rising Phoenix Program,” said UW-Green Bay Provost Michael Alexander. “We are committed to working with our educational partners to invest in the growth of our region and support an increase in the percentage of students in our community that have access to higher education.”

Students in the program will be concurrently enrolled in Manitowoc Lincoln High School and UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus. Courses are selected to meet Wisconsin high school graduation requirements and the UW-Green Bay Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS) degree. It also allows students room to explore individualized interests. The goal for participating students is to earn both their high school diploma and an AAS degree by the time they graduate from Manitowoc Lincoln. Students who complete an AAS degree will have the first two years of a bachelor’s degree completed. The accomplishment will apply whether students decide to continue at UW-Green Bay, transfer to a different college or university, or enter the workforce upon graduation with an earned college credential.

“This new Rising Phoenix program is a powerful partnership,” said Manitowoc Campus CEO Rachele Bakic. “This is an example of how collaborative programs can spur educational opportunities for students today. We are excited to work closely with Lincoln High School to ensure tremendous success for this initial group of bright young minds.”

A group of twenty-five current sophomores at Lincoln High School will be admitted to the Rising Phoenix program and be enrolled during their junior and senior years (fall 2020-spring 2022). The intent is to have a diverse cohort consisting of students who have shown the academic readiness and “grit” needed to succeed in the program, but who may come from families without experience in higher education or without the economic support to further their education. Priority admission will be given to first-generation, economically disadvantaged students, and students who demonstrate a desire to continue their education after high school.

“We are here to get our students ready for what is next after high school, and we want to do so by creating effective communicators, creative problem solvers, and engaged community members,” says Lincoln High School Principal Lee Thennes. “We believe that the model for this partnership encapsulates the very core of our values.”

Student support and coaching are the main priorities and advantages of the program. Every student enrolled will work consistently with UW-Green Bay’s Rising Phoenix student success coach, who will:

  • Assist students through the admissions process
  • Facilitate academic advising
  • Provide social and emotional support
  • Serve as a transition specialist upon graduation (college applications, scholarships, FAFSA and financial aid assistance).

Students will also learn and support each other together as a cohort through the entirety of the program. Students’ tuition and textbooks will be paid by the Manitowoc Public School District, which means there will be no cost to students or families.

The Rising Phoenix program is believed to be the first early-college high school program in Wisconsin partnered with a four-year institution—a pivotal opportunity for the Manitowoc community, Manitowoc Public School District, and UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus. Rising Phoenix has a goal of reducing the achievement gap and establishes a precedent in Wisconsin for more early college high school programs. In the Manitowoc community the hope is the program will be expanded to afford more students college access and enable talent retention.

The Manitowoc Public School District and UW-Green Bay are committed to evolving the program as it grows, eliminating barriers for students to participate and investing in the success of students involved. The Rising Phoenix program is innovative and evidence-based. Its goal is to work towards closing the achievement gap for the underserved and underrepresented students in Manitowoc, while providing a life-changing opportunity for those students and their families for generations to come.

“The Rising Phoenix program supports two of our strategic academic goals,” shares Mark Holzman, Manitowoc Public School District Superintendent. “Increased participation in college-level classes and co-curricular opportunities.”

To learn more about the program, visit the Rising Phoenix website at

In the photo, left to right, Manitowoc Campus CEO Rachele Bakic, Manitowoc Lincoln Principal Lee Thennes, UW-Green Bay Student Success Coach Samantha Post and Meagan Strehlow, executive director, K-12 & Community Relations, UW-Green Bay’s Division of Continuing Education and Community Engagement.

Photo by Jena Richter Landers.

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to more than 8,700 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, D-I athletics, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit



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