College Possible Milwaukee was named “AmeriCorps Program of the Year” at the Governor’s Service Recognition event on Thursday, June 8. The event honored outstanding national service participants and programs that have helped address serious social problems to meet their community’s needs.
College Possible helps low-income Milwaukee students earn college degrees. Last year in Milwaukee, College Possible served more than 750 students in 14 high schools and 1,300 college students on more than 80 campuses across the city, state and country. College Possible juniors improved their ACT score by an average of 20 percent and 94 percent of College Possible seniors earned college admission to a four-year college or university. This year, that number has grown to 97 percent of seniors earning college admission to a 4-year college, an all-time high for the Milwaukee organization.
“These statistics demonstrate how effective this program is in each student’s life,” said Richard Esparza, an AmeriCorps member with College Possible and former College Possible student who presented the award. “I can honestly say that I would not be standing here as a bachelor’s degree holder—with a triple major and certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison—if it were not for this program.”
The Governor’s Service Recognition event was put on by Serve Wisconsin, along with its partner, the Corporation for National and Community Service State Office. The awards ceremony took place at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison.
“College Possible AmeriCorps members are defying national statistics,” said Jeanne Duffy, Executive Director of Serve Wisconsin. “By building personal relationships and a strong support network they are successfully preparing low-income and minority high school students to apply, be accepted into and succeed in college.”
AmeriCorps members with College Possible volunteer to serve for a one-year term, working with high school and college students as they prepare for, and make their way through, college. Many College Possible students who earn their degrees are coming back to serve with the organization. This year, five AmeriCorps members are alumni of the program.
“College Possible impacts students more than just at the high school and college level,” Esparza said. “Former students, just like myself, are deciding to serve as AmeriCorps members with College Possible. Not only are these students starting a trend of giving back to the community that helped them succeed, but they are demonstrating what it is to be an exemplary citizen.”
College Possible students are four times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than their low-income peers.
Photos courtesy of Serve Wisconsin