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UWFox TRiO Educational Talent Search Program Receives Grant

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The University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s Educational Talent Search Program has been awarded $40,532 from the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation to help support activities for its pre-college program. These activities will include study groups for Educational Talent Search (ETS) students, American College Test (ACT) prep classes, college campus visits and training for college mentors who will work with ETS high school seniors.

Director Terri Holzman and the rest of the TRiO staff, Carol Kuehne, program assistant; Dawn Grenzer, high school coordinator; and Kerry Johnson, middle school coordinator, came up with the idea of establishing a required study group for ETS students at Menasha and Kaukauna High Schools. Tutoring has been offered after school but has been met with little success. Holzman and her colleagues met with the principals of these high schools, and it was agreed upon that the study groups could be scheduled into the students’ school day as a way to help students improve academically. ETS students will now be able to receive one-on-one assistance in an ETS study group consisting of five to eight students at a time. “By having the study groups during the school day, we thought we’d have better success of actually getting the kids to participate,” Holzman said. 

Prior to receiving the grant, funds were not available for ACT preparation. The ETS program will now be able to offer an ACT prep class for up to 40 juniors at Kaukauna and Menasha high schools. The ETS program will work with Cambridge Educational Services, provider of the ACT, to score practice exams that will be offered to these juniors. Feedback will then be provided to the ACT prep class instructor, who will be paid through the grant, so he or she knows what content areas to focus on. “Our goal is to help the students improve their score from what they got on the practice test to what they’re going to get on the actual exam,” Holzman said.

New to UWFox this fall is a mentoring class, in which UWFox students can earn one credit by learning what it means to be a mentor. In the spring, these UWFox students will visit the two high schools to work with seniors preparing for the transition from high school to college. Twenty ETS students will be matched up with mentors, who will meet with students once each month, to discuss college-bound topics. The Great Lakes grant will support this mentoring program by providing funds to purchase t-shirts for ETS mentors so they are easily identifiable when they visit the seniors in school. Funds will also go toward resources for a training night for UWFox mentors. The goal is to be able to offer this class to UWFox students every fall, and to eventually have former TRiO students become mentors.

“I think this initiative provides an incredible opportunity for our students. We’re focusing on those students who have a GPA below 2.5. This was our opportunity to be able to look at these students who could use a little extra assistance and provide them with the resources to help them raise their grade point average,” Holzman said.

ETS is a federally funded program, which serves students in sixth through twelfth grade. Students served must meet federal income guidelines, and must be the first in their family to receive a college degree. UWFox has been the host institution for the program since 2006. Since then 211 of the program’s seniors have gone on to enroll in and start college. Of those students, 44 have chosen to attend UWFox.

Posted 10/05/2010