Helping First-Generation Students Overcome Obstacles, CollegeReady Sends Students Off to College

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Graduates of NEW Scholars sign their acceptance letter to NWTC
Graduates of NEW Scholars sign their acceptance letter to NWTC
CollegeReady, a nonprofit organization that helps local students pay for college and prepares them for success, is sending their Class of 2022 NEW Scholars college readiness program participants off to college.

On May 27th at UW-Green Bay’s Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, CollegeReady gathered its latest class of NEW Scholars college readiness program graduates for College Signing Day. In partnership with UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, St. Norbert College, and the Green Bay Area Public School District, College Signing Day celebrates and encourages students as they sign their letter of intent to study at their chosen college/university this fall.

“Our graduating NEW Scholars set their sights on earning a college degree way back in middle school,” explains CollegeReady’s Executive Director, Brent Roubal. “In fact, many of them have been in the program since the sixth grade. We are proud of their drive and determination to become the first person in their family to attend college.” 

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shows that only 40% of all economically disadvantaged students in Wisconsin high schools will pursue post-secondary education. By contrast, 95% of graduating NEW Scholars will attend college after this school year. 

"The Green Bay Area Public School District is incredibly fortunate to have CollegeReady as a partner in ensuring our students can meet their postsecondary educational and career goals," stated Interim Superintendent Vicki Bayer. "CollegeReady's efforts to break down barriers, especially financial barriers, opens doors for our students that they may not have otherwise considered."

Available to students within the Green Bay Area Public School district, the NEW Scholars program was established to help underserved youth become the first person in their family to graduate from college.

“UW-Green Bay is proud to be recognized as the only First Generation Forward institution in the UW System,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Michael Alexander. “We are fundamentally about access to education and providing the support to help students reach their educational goals and become the future leaders of our region.”

These students have been accepted at UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, St. Norbert College, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, Dominican University, and other Wisconsin colleges and universities.

“It’s crucial that first-generation students have the tools and confidence to pursue their passions. Organizations like CollegeReady are fundamental in that process,” said Dr. Colleen Simpson, NWTC vice president of Student Services. “As a long-standing partner of CollegeReady, we will continue to make college possible for all learners. Together, we will carry on our commitment to support first-generation students."

"We're thrilled to welcome these incredible young students to our college and our community," says Corday Goddard, assistant vice president for student affairs at St. Norbert College. "We're proud of all they've achieved and overcome so far, and we're looking forward to supporting them as they embark on a new and exciting journey this fall."

About 24 percent of St. Norbert College students are in the first generation of their families to earn a four-year degree. These college-bound students have overcome unprecedented hurdles, as they faced the COVID 19 pandemic midway through their sophomore year in high school. An EdWeek Research Center survey of low-income, recent high school graduates reported that amid continuing financial strain due to the pandemic, more than one-quarter of students who planned to attend college had not taken steps to obtain financial aid – even though they expected to need it.

“By refusing to give up on their goal of earning a college degree, our NEW Scholars pushed through the challenges they encountered during the pandemic, and have set themselves up for success in college next year,” says Roubal. “95% of our graduating NEW Scholars will receive at least one college scholarship, and many will receive additional financial aid, which significantly lightens the financial burden on our students and their parents.”

Through academic support, college prep, parent workshops, service learning, and so much more, NEW Scholars breaks down barriers to higher education that exist for many low-income and first-generation students. In addition, participants earn up to a $5,000 scholarship toward their college expenses.
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