UW-Madison: PEOPLE Summer Program Moves 994 Students Through Pre-college Paces

MADISON – While any number of teenagers are riding roller coasters, serving
hamburgers or sleeping until noon this summer, 321 middle school and 673 high school
students in the University of Wisconsin-Madison PEOPLE Program are focused on
getting into college.

For three weeks every summer, Madison middle-school students wake up at the crack of
dawn for a bonding breakfast at Union South, followed by a day immersed in one of 24
workshops. They build robotic insects, take apart computers, pilot simulator
airplanes, assemble newscasts and design Japanese kimonos.

“We want to get the students excited about learning, to help them get to know one
another and to demystify the big college campus,” says Walter Lane, director of the
PEOPLE Program, administered by the School of Education.

The PEOPLE Program works in partnership with public schools to identify academically
promising students from culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged
backgrounds, and provides them with ongoing academic support, including tutoring and
summer enrichment.

High school students attend three-week and six-week residential programs on the
UW-Madison campus. For most, it’s their first time away from home alone. Their days
are filled with challenging coursework, state-of-the-art lab activities, career
exploration, study skill strategies and social awareness development.

Along the way, PEOPLE students build a solid network of friends and mentors who may
seem very different on the surface, but who keep each other on track toward reaching
a shared goal. Students who graduate from the program and are accepted at UW-Madison
receive full-tuition scholarships, with 180 awarded thus far.

“This is your time. This is your place,” assistant admissions director Carlos Reyes
told a standing-room-only crowd at the Union Theatre on opening day of the summer
program. “The seats you are in are very difficult to get. And our expectation is
that you will be the leaders who make a change. This is the beginning of success.”

PEOPLE is a cornerstone of Plan 2008, the university’s effort to diversify its
student body. The pipeline program has achieved encouraging success since it began,
with 66 students from Milwaukee in 1999. Total program enrollment for 2006-07 is
1,225 students.

Ninety-four percent of high school PEOPLE students go on to higher education.
Roughly half enter UW-Madison with an average retention of 92 percent, compared to
88 percent for the general student population. Currently, 180 PEOPLE undergraduates
are enrolled for the fall 2006 term.

The AT&T Foundation is a longtime and significant supporter of PEOPLE, having
donated nearly $1 million to the program. Last year, the AT&T Foundation – the
charitable giving arm of AT&T Wisconsin – continued its support with a grant in the
amount of $125,000 to the UW Foundation.

The summer, PEOPLE Program concludes Friday, July 28 at 11:45 a.m. in the
Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion of the Kohl Center. Guests of honor are 128 high school
seniors who have completed the internship requirement and their proud families from
Black River Falls, Keshena, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha. Also being
recognized are 70 incoming freshmen, who are enrolled in the summer bridge program
required to maintain eligibility for the tuition scholarship.

A flurry of activity takes place during the final week of the PEOPLE summer program,
July 24-28. Third-year high school students move one step closer to college as they
prepare business presentations, rehearse dance routines and assemble science
projects marking their formal completion of the program.