Boys & Girls Clubs take over YMCA Sponsor-a-Scholar program

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee today announced that Boys & Girls Clubs will assume leadership of the YMCA's Sponsor-A-Scholar program, an initiative designed to enhance college access for under-served youth and support their ongoing academic and career success.

Effective January 1, 2015, the program will be known as the Boys & Girls Clubs Sponsor-A-Scholar program. More than 400 students wanting to prepare for and ultimately be successful in college are expected to benefit from the academic, financial and social support provided.

Through both daily contact and weekly workshops at select Boys & Girls Clubs and school sites, Sponsor-A-Scholar high school student participants will benefit from one-on-one academic tutoring and advising, assistance preparing for their ACT exams, and summer internship opportunities to develop skills needed in today's workforce.

Once student participants become high school seniors, they will also benefit from college application guidance, student financial aid (FAFSA) and scholarship application guidance, college campus tours, financial literacy education, college advising and course selection, and more. Finally, when students enter college, they will be paired with a college advisor to assist them in addressing the challenges they encounter during their college career, creating and building their résumés, and preparing for life after college.

"Sponsor-A-Scholar is a tremendous initiative that has meant the difference for so many Y kids who have dreamed of earning a college degree," said Julie Tolan, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.

"As the Milwaukee Y refocuses our work on the core areas where we believe we can make the most impact moving forward, we realized that current and future students would be best served by an organization of the caliber, reach and expertise of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. We are so grateful for the Boys & Girls Clubs' leadership in carrying the Sponsor-A-Scholar legacy forward, and know that our scholars are in great hands as they continue their journey toward a college education."

All participants in the program will benefit from both financial support to help cover college costs not funded through financial aid or scholarships, as well as automatic Boys & Girls Clubs memberships. The Boys & Girls Clubs' Sponsor-A-Scholar program aims to ensure at least 90 percent of participants graduate high school and 75 percent graduate college with a GPA of at least 2.5.

"We are thrilled that our commitment to serving youth and reputation as a leader in college access and success programming has led to this opportunity to help more young people achieve their academic goals," said Vincent Lyles, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

"Through our network of clubs, experienced and dedicated staff, and knowledge of what it takes to prepare for and be successful in college, we are in a great position to expand our college access work to include scholars from the Y and ultimately reach other kids who are dedicated to continuing their education after high school."

The Boys & Girls Clubs Sponsor-A-Scholar program will be made possible through the generous funding of sponsors such as the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and the Burke Foundation, among others.

"Sponsor-A-Scholar has had a long history of empowering hundreds of low-income, first-generation college students through their college readiness program," said Deanna Singh, Executive Director of the Burke Foundation. "The Burke Foundation is committed to the Sponsor-A-Scholar program, and its transition through Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, in offering increased access and opportunity to underserved Milwaukee students in obtaining a post-secondary education. Achieving a college education is critical to the future of our city's youth, and we are proud to support this program in building foundations for students to succeed through high school and attain a college degree."

The current YMCA Sponsor-A-Scholar program will continue uninterrupted until December 31, 2014, with the Boys & Girls Clubs Sponsor-A-Scholar program officially starting on January 1, 2015. At that time, the YMCA's involvement in Sponsor-A-Scholar will conclude, and the program will be exclusively run by Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. All current YMCA Sponsor-A-Scholar participants are guaranteed a spot in the new program moving forward. Enrollment opportunities for new scholars will be announced at a later date.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM), one of the largest and longest youth-serving agencies in Milwaukee, offers structured after-school and summer programming to more than 41,000 children and teens each year. Within the safety of 44 locations, youth have access to free meals, academic support, role models and opportunities to build character and explore new interests. Through programs like SPARK Early Literacy Initiative and World of Work, the Clubs provide a structured pathway for members to thrive in all stages of their education and gain valuable job experience that will help them develop successful careers as adults.

More than 86 percent of the organization's annual budget goes toward youth programming. Charity Navigator, America's largest and most-utilized charity evaluator, has given BGCGM its highest rating five years in a row. For more information, please visit www.boysgirlsclubs.org.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee is a powerful association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life joined together by a shared passion to strengthen the foundations of community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Since 1858, Milwaukee YMCAs have helped kids and families live healthy lives in spirit, mind and body. Supported in part through contributions to the Annual Campaign, the Y provides membership assistance and scholarships to programs like summer camp, child care and teen activities, to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to be healthy, confident, connected and secure. ymcamke.org

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