College Possible Milwaukee announced a new multi-year scholarship program created in collaboration with Wisconsin-based Kohler Co. In addition to renewable educational scholarships, the Kohler Scholars program provides hands-on experiences for Milwaukee high school seniors and college students including career exploration, internship opportunities and mentorship.
“This is about tapping the potential of students who will become tomorrow’s leaders. It’s about providing not just financial support, but the sort of hands-on experiences that enable future leaders to discover their passion, develop new skills and build a network of mentors to help support them on their journey,” said Ginger King, Vice President of Human Resources for Kohler Co. “We are inspired by the College Possible’s track record and excited to deepen our impact in our community.”
The pilot of the Kohler Scholars program will launch in June 2022 and will serve nearly 100 high school seniors and college students by spring 2024. Participating scholars will receive scholarships totaling $5,000, be assigned a trained Kohler mentor, engage in a yearly career exploration visit at Kohler’s headquarters, and receive a paid internship that upon graduation may result in a full-time employment. The Kohler Scholars program stems from Kohler’s recently announced Community Partnership Program that strives increase access to opportunities and support students from an early age through post-secondary school and as they consider joining the workforce.
This new scholars program is coming at a critical time as students from low-income backgrounds have seen disproportionate declines in college enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, high school graduates from historically underrepresented groups and low-income backgrounds had the lowest rate of immediate college enrollment (30.4%), falling 15 percentage points lower than higher-income peers state-wide.
“We know that students who are the first in their family to attend college, or who grew up without the resources of their more affluent peers, can and do thrive in college. We also know that targeted support from mentoring and internships can help to accelerate students success,” said Kellie J. Sigh, Executive Director, College Possible Milwaukee. “Through this new partnership not only will we be able to help scholars make good on their college aspirations, but it can also light a path beyond college.”
College Possible is one of the largest college access and success organizations in the country, providing one-on-one near-peer coaching to nearly 25,000 students annually from low-income backgrounds at 225 schools in eight major cities across the country. According to a randomized study done by Harvard University, students who participate in College Possible’s program are three times more likely to complete college.
Since its founding in 2008, College Possible Milwaukee has helped 4,000 of Milwaukee students navigate the college admissions process through the support of near-peer coaches, enabling them to successfully gain access to a college education, along with the knowledge and skills to enter into the workforce upon graduation. College Possible Milwaukee is working with their partner high schools to identify high school seniors to participate in the program and the implementation of college students will come in year two of the program.