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Public invited to Blugold Beginnings open house Oct. 21

RELEASED: Oct. 7, 2009

Blugold Beginnings imageEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 21 to inform the public and the campus community about the goals of the new Blugold Beginnings program, a multifaceted effort to expand access to college through pre-college outreach. The open house will be held in the Blugold Beginnings Office in Old Library 2134, between Schofield Hall and McIntyre Library.

On June 8 Gov. Jim Doyle announced UW-Eau Claire's selection for a grant which will fund a portion of the Blugold Beginnings program. Allocated from the Wisconsin College Access Challenge Grant, the funds are administered by the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. on behalf of the state. UW-Eau Claire was selected from among nine Wisconsin colleges and universities that competed for funding to replicate UW-Green Bay's successful Phuture Phoenix program, which encourages young, at-risk students to pursue higher education.

The grant will support the development of an elementary school component to the Blugold Beginnings program at UW-Eau Claire. The program will aim to inform and inspire underrepresented fifth-grade students about higher education and how it is possible for them.

Lissa Martinez, the Blugold Beginnings program coordinator, said UW-Eau Claire's division of Student Affairs and Dean of Students office will recruit committed and motivated college students to serve as Blugold Beginnings mentors and send them into four local schools: Lakeshore, Longfellow and Sherman elementary schools in Eau Claire; and Arcadia Elementary School in Arcadia. Each school will have 10-15 mentors. Mentors also will participate in the May campus tour day when fifth-graders visit UW-Eau Claire.

Mentor positions are available immediately and will extend through two semesters. Mentors are expected to be at their designated elementary school two to five times per week, for a minimum of five hours per week. Schedules will depend on the availability of mentors and mentees. UW-Eau Claire's service-learning requirement can be completed by mentoring through this program. A training session is required before mentors begin.

"This program is a wonderful opportunity for university students to become connected with the local community, make a difference in a young person's life and promote higher education at a hands-on level," said Martinez.

A high school component of the Blugold Beginnings program began in the spring of this year and also involves the pairing of students with college mentors. In addition to the in-school mentoring, high school students are encouraged to attend monthly campus events coordinated by the Blugold Beginnings mentors. The first event, scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 24, will offer students the opportunity to experience a Blugold football game, with a picnic lunch beforehand.

"Our goal is to increase the number of underrepresented college-bound students, while providing support and inspiration throughout their path to higher education," said Sarah Gonzalez, a senior psychology major from Sheboygan who has served as a Blugold Beginnings high school mentor.

More information about the Blugold Beginnings program is available online, through Martinez at 715-836-3651 or martinlj@uwec.edu or through Christine Webster at 715-836-3015 or websteck@uwec.edu.

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NW/DW

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