First-Generation Students Forge a Path Forward

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NWTC welcomes graduates of NEW Scholars college readiness program
NWTC welcomes graduates of NEW Scholars college readiness program
CollegeReady, a nonprofit organization that helps local students pay for college and prepares them for success, is congratulating their NEW Scholars college readiness program participants and sending the Class of 2024 graduates off to college.

On May 22nd at UW-Green Bay’s Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, CollegeReady gathered its NEW Scholars college readiness program participants for NEW Scholars Take Center Stage!, a year-end celebration of first-generation students in Green Bay. In partnership with UW-Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, this event especially highlighted the Class of 2024 NEW Scholars as they signed a letter of intent to study at their chosen college/university this fall.

“This transformative event celebrates the achievements of every NEW Scholar, but we also place a special focus on our graduating class,” shares CollegeReady Executive Director Brent Roubal. “We are very proud of all our students, and this year is especially exciting as we mark the tenth year of the NEW Scholars program.”

Data shows that only 31% of economically disadvantaged local students will pursue post-secondary education. By contrast, 100% of graduating NEW Scholars will attend college after this school year.

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. Students begin participating in the after school program in the 6th grade and continue through high school and into college entrance. NEW Scholars also promotes parent involvement, with monthly parent/guardian workshops and bilingual family support.

“We are excited to welcome students from the NEW Scholars program into the Phoenix family, joining the more than 50,000 Phoenix alumni who continue to make a difference in our communities,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Michael Alexander. “Providing access to education to everyone who wants to learn is central to our mission. We are proud to be a First Gen Forward institution, and are proud to welcome NEW Scholars graduates to continue to rise and achieve their educational goals.”

A NEW Scholars participant since the sixth grade, Itzel Perez – a Class of 2024 graduate and featured speaker at the May 22nd event – recognizes that the program has helped her achieve her goals. “Going to college means a better future for myself, and it’s an inspiration for my younger brothers,” she explains. “The NEW Scholars program kept me on track and kept me in check, and I will always remember the interactions and advice from all the people who really truly wanted to help me.”

“The path to academic success starts with equipping students with the tools and confidence to pursue their passions – and organizations like CollegeReady play a fundamental role in that journey,” said Kristen Raney, NWTC president. “Providing access to higher education for all students is not only a matter of equity, it’s strengthening our future workforce. As a long-standing partner with CollegeReady, together, we will continue to transform lives through the power of education and grow a thriving community.”

When first joining NEW Scholars, students set out to become the first person in their family to earn a college degree. This year’s graduates have remained focused on their college and career aspirations, despite the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and significant FAFSA delays this year. They are looking forward to attending college next year at UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, St. Norbert College, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Eau Claire.

“It has been inspiring to watch our 2024 graduates grow into confident and capable future college students,” says Roubal. “All of our graduating NEW Scholars will receive a scholarship from CollegeReady, and most 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.
About CollegeReady Since 1962, CollegeReady (previously Scholarships, Inc.) has been the local “go-to” resource for Northeast Wisconsin students who need help funding their college dreams. The organization has awarded more than $13.4M in scholarships to thousands of local students, and provides support and encouragement to underrepresented, college-bound middle and high school students in our community through the NEW Scholars college readiness program. For more information about CollegeReady and the NEW Scholars program, follow us on social media @CollegeReadyWI or visit

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