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Great Lakes Higher Education funding helps Blugold Beginnings expand reach

November 14, 2012

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been awarded a $148,000 grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. to expand the reach of Blugold Beginnings, a program designed to give area youth access to higher education through precollege outreach.

The grant supports the Blugold Beginnings Learning Community for Underrepresented Students program, which expands the existing learning program to include students who are low-income, first generation or students of color.

The goal of the program is to increase retention and persistence rates of disadvantaged undergraduate students by providing academic, career and personal support services. The program will guide 40 underrepresented college students through their undergraduate education, engaging them in campus activities proven to help students become more active and connected to campus life, organizations and events. Students also receive academic tutoring and career planning and development.

"The Blugold Beginnings Learning Community provides additional supports to students through meaningful employment, weekly group meetings, student mentors and faculty/staff college coaches," said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of students and one of the authors of the grant proposal. "The services and support provided encourages students to maximize their learning by participating in high-impact college experiences. We hope to increase the number of students participating in programs, which are often perceived as out of reach for underrepresented students, such as study abroad."

The program also partners students with a faculty or academic staff member to serve as a mentor through the College Coaches program, as well as an underrepresented undergraduate or graduate student as a mentor. Students participating in the program also serve as mentors in the elementary and middle schools for the Blugold Beginnings Precollege Access Program.

For more details about the grant or Blugold Beginnings, contact Jodi Thesing-Ritter at 715-836-2325 or thesinjm@uwec.edu.

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