Phuture Phoenix lands $22,000 grant for Fellows work

The Phuture Phoenix Program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has received a $22,000 grant for 2008-09 from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. The award will underwrite the work of nine Phuture Phoenix “Fellows” — UW-Green Bay undergraduates who serve as student leaders and coordinate Phuture Phoenix tutoring at local middle schools participating in the program. The grant will also support ongoing research aimed at program evaluation and improvement.

“These are two critically important areas,” says Kim Desotell, director of Phuture Phoenix. “We know the program is making a difference in the lives of young people in Northeast Wisconsin — our sense is that placing university students in leadership positions as Fellows in the schools has been a great success — and this program component is only going to be more important as those first Phuture Phoenix students enter college in 2010.”

Phuture Phoenix began in 2003 and has since served about 5,000 schoolchildren from 14 Title I elementary schools in Green Bay, West De Pere, Oneida Nation and several outlying districts. The program’s signature event is an annual tour for fifth-graders from elementary schools with significant poverty rates. As the children visit the UW-Green Bay campus 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.

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. The Fellows initiative provides for continuing contact and additional mentorship during the middle and high school years. Students designated as Fellows work with school staff to identify individual needs of at-risk students and to match them with specific mentors and resources.

Desotell says that, with growth of the program, Phuture Phoenix is exploring options to add a parent outreach component to help families navigate their children’s paths toward college.

Comments Richard George, president and chief executive officer of Great Lakes, “Phuture Phoenix has given more than 5,000 under-represented students in the Green Bay area the chance to dream about a brighter future. We applaud their efforts and support them as they work to strengthen the entire Green Bay community.”

George added that, over its 41-year history, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation has helped millions of students and families make the dream of higher education a reality. The corporation proudly supports Phuture Phoenix, the Wisconsin Covenant and other initiatives that increase access and awareness for students and families.

Headquartered in Madison, the non-profit corporation is one of the nation’s leading guarantors and servicers of student loans, serving more than 2,700 institutions, 1,400 lenders and two million borrowers across the nation. It is the designated guarantor for several states including Wisconsin.