search facebook twitter instagram phone envelope fax external

Youth & Pre-College Programs


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 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.

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.

UCC offers significant support to its alumni throughout high school, including college preparatory work, workshops, and activities as well as scholarship support for BGCS alumni attending private high schools. Pre-college workshops include information regarding the college application process, financial information, and campus tours.

From the onset of their involvement in UCC’s precollege programming, our students are working with college advisors and making plans for the next steps. 98% of BGCS alumni graduate high school, and 78% of last year’s alumni enrolled in two- or four-year higher education programs. UCC's Youth Prevention Programs provide a safe and educational environment for middle and high school students, minimizing at-risk behaviors and shaping future community leaders.

Our Mission

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:

  1. Personal characteristics (self-esteem, honesty, fairness)
  2. Communication skills (constructive criticism, listening skills)
  3. Leadership abilities (responsibility, tolerance, flexibility)
  4. Teamwork skills (collective decision making, treating others with respect)
  5. 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 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 gaps for such leadership.
UCC Safe Place

The Safe & Sound initiative currently involves 21 neighborhoods collaborating to create a safer Milwaukee. As one of many Safe & Sound “Safe Places,” UCC is committed to minimizing juvenile crime and at-risk behaviors. Through meaningful programs that help students think critically about crime issues and community concerns, UCC encourages youth to avoid involvement in gang, crime, violent, or delinquent activities and are empowered to attain the developmental assets needed to become competent, caring, and healthy adults.

UCC Safe Place programs include academic counseling and pre-college programs, opportunities for civic engagement, leadership workshops, and presentations by guest speakers and community leaders. The main objective of the program is to deter and delay the onset of risky and criminal behavior by emphasizing and providing opportunities to develop personal goals centered on high school completion and post-secondary education.

  • Available weekdays, year-round
  • Open to middle school and high school students
  • Activities in the Teen Center 3–8 p.m.
Developing and Sensitizing Young Leaders

The Crime Strategy Initiative (CSI), a Safe Place activity, is a youth-led response to neighborhood crime. CSI educates youth on various topics in the field of crime prevention, promotes communication skills and leadership qualities in youth, and encourages youth to take proactive steps against substance abuse, gang activity, and violence in their neighborhoods. UCC’s collaboration with local law enforcement provides a unique opportunity for youth to hear from police officers and other city officials regarding crime issues and community concerns.

Through discussion and critical thinking, students develop their own plans for building a strong, peaceful, and safe community.

  • Available weekdays, year-round
  • Open to middle school and high school students
  • Activities in the Teen Center 3–8 p.m.

All-Stars is an evidence-based program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UCC adopted the program in 2006 to prevent alcohol and drug use, postpone sexual activity, and reduce fighting and delinquency in middle school youth. In 2009 All-Stars expanded to also serve the high school population as students develop a path to college.

Students set personal goals and learn decision-making and stress-management skills as well as strategies for resisting peer pressure. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony in which students, in front of peers and prominent community members, commit to a goal-oriented lifestyle and avoidance of high-risk behaviors.

  • Weekly throughout the school year
  • Open to middle school and high school students
Youth Volunteer Corps

Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) is an exciting program designed to encourage and empower youth through volunteer service. YVC allows UCC to recruit youth volunteers (8th–12th grade) to help our youth program staff run the 5-week summer recreation program.

During the academic year, YVC members help tutor elementary school students that participate in the Homework Help and Enrichment programs. Over the summer, volunteers assist group leaders during the Summer Recreation Program while helping to supervise and mentor elementary school student participants.

By participating in the program, youth volunteers will enjoy the benefits of:

  • Gaining invaluable experience through community service
  • Gaining 20 hours per week in volunteer service hours
  • Engaging in a summer full of excitement and recreational activities for teens
  • Having the opportunity to build their community service portfolio
  • Having the opportunity to participate in various trainings
  • Having the opportunity to gain leadership and job skills

Youth Volunteer Corps members receive a Youth Volunteer Corps t-shirt, a chance to build their community service portfolio, access to UCC's Pre-College Program, and recognition for their great work!


To learn more about any of our youth programs and how you can get involved, contact Tim Balke by email or phone.