From fifth grade to college: Scholarships greet first ‘Phuture Phoenix’ freshmen

A pledge made to fifth-grade students seven years ago will be honored this fall when the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay welcomes its first freshman class to include students from the original Phuture Phoenix program.

Applications are now being accepted for Phuture Phoenix Scholarships, available to high school seniors planning to attend UW-Green Bay in the fall of 2010. Up to 20 scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded. The scholarships are renewable each year the student attends UW-Green Bay.

“This award is a milestone marking seven years of successful programming for students whose journey began in fifth grade with the campus tour,” said Kim Desotell, director of the UW-Green Bay Phuture Phoenix Program. “The program followed their path and continued to support them academically with tutoring and mentoring in their middle and high school years.”

Scholarship awards will be based upon applicants’ prior involvement in Phuture Phoenix programming, financial need and proof of admission to UW-Green Bay. The awards are made possible through the generosity of local donors supporting the mission of Phuture Phoenix. The deadline for submission is March 30, 2010. Applications are available in high school guidance offices and at

Phuture Phoenix began in 2003 and has since served more than 7,400 school children from elementary schools with significant low-income populations.

In its first year the Phuture Phoenix program served elementary students whose schools feed into East, West and Preble high schools in the Green Bay Area School District. Since that first year the Phuture Phoenix program has expanded and now includes West De Pere, Oneida Nation, Bonduel, Bowler, Menominee Indian, Oconto, Oconto Falls, Suring and the Sturgeon Bay school districts.

“The Phuture Phoenix program says a great deal about the character of the University and the people of Northeastern Wisconsin,” said Ginny Riopelle, vice chair of the UW-Green Bay Council of Trustees and a co-founder of the Phuture Phoenix program. “To school children and their families it says ‘we believe in you and your future. And together we can make opportunities available.’”

The program’s signature event is an annual tour of the UW-Green Bay campus for about 1,300 fifth-graders. As the children visit UW-Green Bay and experience “college,” they are encouraged to be excited about education, eventual high school graduation, and the possibilities for college, university or technical college careers. For many students, perhaps from families with little experience involving higher education, the visit can be a first step toward feeling motivated to make educational achievement their top priority.

Hundreds of UW-Green Bay students volunteer each year to serve as hosts and role models for the fifth-graders during these Phuture Phoenix Day activities. They also conduct follow-up visits to elementary schools. UW-Green Bay students provide continued contact and additional mentorship during the middle and high school years, tutoring more than 900 students annually throughout Brown County. Tutoring in schools is aimed at raising student attendance, improving academic success and increasing high school graduation rates for at-risk students.

“Together, with the support of our generous donors, we are pleased to award this first round of Phuture Phoenix Scholarships,” Desotell said. “This effort directly supports our program mission to increase awareness and opportunity for post-secondary educational attainment.”

About Phuture Phoenix /
The Phuture Phoenix program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay aims to increase the odds that at-risk students will graduate from high school and also pursue higher education. Phuture Phoenix involves bringing area fifth-graders from Title I elementary schools from throughout Northeastern Wisconsin to spend a day on campus as a means to envision themselves as future college students. Phuture Phoenix mentors—UW-Green Bay student volunteers—continue contact with many of these students in Phase II of the program. The mentors work closely with students in grades 6-12, tutoring and mentoring them. Since its inception in 2002, Phuture Phoenix has connected with more than 7,400 students, encouraging them to do well in school and dream of a future they may not have considered by moving on to higher education. The program was designed because Northeast Wisconsin has a lower percentage of students in the state graduating high school and going on to higher education.

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R. Terry Anderson

I teach English Composition and handle media and marketing for the Institute for Learning Partnership.

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