Pre-college preparation support for area students in grades 5 through 12 will continue through UW-Eau Claire's Blugold Beginnings program with help from a recent grant to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation from the Otto Bremer Trust (formerly the Otto Bremer Foundation).
The $60,000 grant will enable Blugold Beginnings to provide more than 400 local elementary through high school students with in-school and after-school programming, said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, UW-Eau Claire's executive director for diversity and inclusion and Blugold Beginnings program director.
Whisper Kappus-McDew, a current UW-Eau Claire student and graduate of North High School in Eau Claire, recounted the benefits of her participation in Blugold Beginnings.
"I have been in Blugold Beginnings since my freshman year of high school," Kappus-McDew said. "Throughout those years, I had a college mentor who helped me tremendously with all the questions I had about college. From preparing a résumé to being awarded scholarships, Blugold Beginnings has greatly impacted my high school, and now college, experience."
Blugold Beginnings provides the following programming at participating elementary, middle and high schools in Eau Claire, Altoona and Augusta:
- Mentoring by current UW-Eau Claire students who develop relationships with the younger students, serve as role models and provide college knowledge to mentees.
- Fifth- and eighth-grade Campus Tour Days at UW-Eau Claire that introduce area elementary and middle school students to the idea of college.
- Monthly events for high school students on the UW-Eau Claire campus, such as football games, residence hall activities and other college life events.
- Summer camps during which high school and middle school students learn about college access, college classes and university life while spending a week on campus interacting with faculty and the rest of campus.
"We are incredibly grateful that the Bremer Trust's grant allocation will allow us to continue Blugold Beginnings post-secondary readiness programming in our area schools," Thesing-Ritter said. "Without this funding, we would not be able to provide this important service to our region."
Top photo: Participants in the Blugold Beginnings Eighth Grade Tour Day visit the UW-Eau Claire campus during spring 2015.
Photo in story: Representatives from UW-Eau Claire's Blugold Beginnings program recently accepted a $60,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust. Pictured, from left to right, are James Lahti, market president for Otto Bremer Trust; Jodi Thesing-Ritter, UW-Eau Claire's executive director for diversity and inclusion; Matt Flannery, senior retail sales manager for Otto Bremer Trust; and Betsy Kell, Blugold Beginnings advisory board chairperson.