Youth and Pre-College Programs at UCC serve approximately 2,000 young students annually. Teens attending more than two dozen area high schools benefit from mentoring, meaningful volunteer service, prevention programming, academic guidance and much more. Persistence programming – programs aimed at increasing student retention in college and ultimately the achievement of degree completion – provides access for college students to academic, financial and career advising in addition to opportunities for students to enhance their social and professional networks.
With seed funds from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, UCC launched the Achievers Academy, a subset of BGCS alumni, in spring 2004 as a bridge for Bruce-Guadalupe Community School (BGCS) alumni between elementary/middle school and college. Recognizing that leadership is an acquired skill, Hispanic and south side Milwaukee youth needed opportunities to learn, develop and practice leadership skills. The UCC Achievers Academy was launched as a means to build Hispanic self-sufficiency by assisting Latino adolescents and youth to develop academic, leadership, and personal enrichment skills while preparing them for high school, higher education and career success.
The number of programs and services available for BGCS alumni has expanded in reach and effectiveness in the years since its inception. UCC currently offers a wide variety of Pre-College Programs and Prevention Programs in the Community Learning Center, which include volunteer opportunities and academic support as well as financial education and social/behavioral encouragement. Most recently, in partnership with the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM), UCC has been able to expand services available to college students through the Abriendo Puertas program.
Youth and Pre-College Program participants engage in a number of personal development activities throughout the summer that focus on five key areas of growth:
- Personal characteristics (self-esteem, honesty, fairness)
- Communication skills (constructive criticism, listening skills)
- Leadership abilities (responsibility, tolerance, flexibility)
- Teamwork skills (collective decision making, treating others with respect)
- Future planning (setting long-term goals, planning ahead)
The primary goal of UCC's Youth and Pre-College Programs to increase the graduation rate of Hispanics in Milwaukee and encourage continued education beyond high school to improve the long-term earning power of the students. The significant long-term outcomes include:
- A higher percentage of Hispanic students will gain entrance into the college/technical degree or apprenticeship program of their choice.
- Students successful in high school and beyond will build a bridge to self-sufficiency for Hispanics.
- Future leaders of Hispanic origin will be nurtured to fill the existing gap for such leadership.
Specific services made available to all students include:
- After school tutoring in core subjects
- Academic and personal counseling
- Workshops on setting goals and study skills
- One-on-one mentoring
- After school and summer recreation and enrichment programs
- Visits to college campuses, businesses, and cultural events
- ACT preparation (10 sessions at 2 hours each)
- Volunteer opportunities
- Athletic leagues and open gym