By Nyesha Stone
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) has been around since 1999 and started with 66 students from Milwaukee high schools. The program has grown since then and now has an office in Milwaukee.
Earlier this week, Rufus King International Middle School held a grand opening to celebrate PEOPLE’s new office, which resides in the middle school.
PEOPLE consists of two programs: the precollege unit and the college unit. The program starts in 8th grade and follows the student until their senior year of high school. Throughout their years in high school, PEOPLE prepares them for college, while exposing them to college courses, learning and people from different UW systems, mainly UW-Madison.
If accepted into the college unit, the student will receive a full-ride to UW-Madison with other resources to help them complete college successfully. The scholarship is only applicable for UW-Madison.
This is a very time-consuming commitment, said Gail Ford, PEOPLE assistant director of the precollege unit. Although some may say 8th grade is too early to be thinking about college, Ford said it is actually the perfect time. College transcripts start at 9th grade, so catching the youth early can prepare them for a better future.
Ford said they mainly target African Americans, since Milwaukee is considered a Black city. The goal is to “provide some pathways to college,” said Ford.
“We want them to have the mindset ‘I’m going to go college not just high school graduation,” she said.
To be considered for PEOPLE, the student must have completed at least one semester of 8th grade, have mostly proficient in their classes and commit to one of PEOPLE’s 17 partnership high schools, such as Rufus King, Hamilton or Bay View.
Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools Dr. Keith Posley said PEOPLE is a wonderful addition to MPS because it is a chance to expose the young people to more opportunities.
“We know that this works,” Dr. Posley said about PEOPLE. “Amazing things are happening in MPS every day. We’re just waiting to fill those seats at Madison.”
Although college may not be the path for everyone, at least having the option to go can make all the difference.
Applications are open and being accepted until March 11. To apply, visit https://peopleprogram.wisc.edu/apply/.