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AmeriCorps funding helps Blugold Beginnings expand

RELEASED: Sept. 22, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has received a $266,000 AmeriCorps grant to expand Blugold Beginnings, a program designed to give more area youth access to higher education through precollege outreach.

Last year AmeriCorps funding helped UW-Eau Claire develop a Blugold Beginnings College and Career Readiness program targeted at youth from low-income families, first-generation higher education youth, and youth from minority racial and ethnic families.

The most recent grant will allow that programming to continue in the Eau Claire and Arcadia school districts, and expand it to serve the Altoona and Chippewa Falls school districts.

The grant will support UW-Eau Claire students who serve as AmeriCorps members as they work with the younger students during resource and study hall times, as well as during after-school study clubs, said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of students and one of the authors of the grant proposal.

"Funding will support the school programming as well as ACT prep workshops, financial aid and scholarship writing workshops, application workshops, monthly college culture events and Saturday College programming," Thesing-Ritter said. "Students come to campus for four hours each Saturday for homework help and successful academic behaviors support."

Blugold Beginnings AmeriCorps members help students with homework to support academic achievement and mentor them to help prepare them for college, Thesing-Ritter said.

The most recent grant project will enable 81 UW-Eau Claire students to be AmeriCorps members, Thesing-Ritter said. As AmeriCorps members they will receive training on citizenship and civic engagement, she said, noting they also will receive awards to help fund their education at UW-Eau Claire.

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

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JT/JB/DW

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