Program opens access to education

Mouna Algahaithi, Managing Editor

Madison College is taking even further steps towards their mission of providing “open access to quality higher education that fosters lifelong learning and success” within the community by the launch of their new initiative: Scholars of Promise.

The Scholars of Promise pre-college program aims to eradicate the financial barrier amongst participating members as well as target the negative consequences correlated to low-income situations that prevent high school students from committing to higher education.

“The program will be targeted towards juniors and seniors in high schools around Dane county,” explained Javier Salazar Neira, Associate Manager of Scholars of Promise and Student intake. “With the disparities in social economics growing bigger, those left on the lower economic spectrum are left behind,” he said, “and the product of this results in students who don’t believe they can accomplish their academic goals, or with parents who cannot afford financial fees.”

In order to be eligible to participate, a few requirements include that the student achieve a grade point average minimum of 2.25 (although students may submit an appeal if it’s lower) and obtain an 80% attendance rate during their senior year. The program aims to welcome their first cohort of Promise scholars onto Madison College campuses in Fall 2017.

The benefits of being a Promise scholar range from having tuition and fees paid for up to six consecutive semesters as well as having a personal coach to guide, mentor, and navigate through the trials of Madison College campuses and classes. Other expectations for Promise scholars are to  attend workshops each semester, with topics such as financial literacy and career services, as well as participate in service learning projects each semester.

Niera explained the Scholars of Promise Program is “not just about financial” help, but also about ensuring academic success and the development of lifelong skills. “How can we promise their success?” Niera asked, before explaining that the foundation of the Promise programs stems from the on-campus organization TRIO, which offers continuous support and mentoring to low-income Madison College students and has a 90% success rate.

The disparity between low-income high school students and low-income college students graduating with degrees is at an all time high.

The Pell Institute, a research organization sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education, released a 2016 historical trend report on higher education equity, where it collected data from the U.S Consensus as well as other data sources, stating that less than 10 percent of graduating college students came from a low-income background, showing the disconnect between high-school graduates furthering their education.

“This is just phase one,” Niera explained, going on to state that the college hopes to develop future phases that include intentional programs for returning adults and considering the GED population. Niera also explained that for a full cohort to run, it includes “heavy fundraising”, looking at 1.6 million dollars. “We need big time money behind this, and we’re going after our community (for support).”

For more information on the Scholars of Promise pre-college program, contact Niera at [email protected]