$2.6 million drives unique Boys & Girls Club, MMSD partnership

New joint program aims to double minority/low-income student college enrollment

The Boys & Girls Club (BGC) and Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) announced today a new joint initiative that intends to double the number of minority and low-income students who plan to pursue four-year college and technical college degrees upon high school graduation. The launch of the initiative is made possible through private commitments of $2.6 million to the Boys & Girls Club covering 50% of the first five years of the programs cost.

“We are so excited to partner with the Madison Metropolitan School District on this groundbreaking initiative, said Mary Burke, President of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club. “By combining the school district’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program with the Boys & Girls Club Teens Of Promise program (TOPs) we will make a difference, not only in the lives of the students involved in the program but also in the community at large.  The health of our community is closely tied to having an educated, skilled workforce.  This initiative is designed to do just that. ”

The AVID program is a rigorous in-school elective that students take throughout high school to their improve study skills, grades, time management, reading and writing skills to better prepare them for college.  The TOPs program offers summer job internships, mentors, scholarships, field trips, career exploration and financial support for tutoring.  Students commit to staying on the college track, maintaining a 2.5 GPA, taking courses that will prepare them for college and having a good attendance record. 

The AVID program, launched at East High School by the school district in the fall of 2007 with 28 students, will expand to all MMSD high school students. The program will grow to 100 students in the fall of 2008 and will add 100 students each year until reaching 800 students within 10 years.  Participants are chosen based on grades, test scores, family income and whether they would be first generation college students in their families. The program helps students with average grades, and above average motivation, who may not receive the guidance and resources needed to achieve their dream of a college degree.

In Madison, just 26 percent of minority students who graduate high school plan to pursue a four-year college degree—a stark contrast to the 60 percent of white Madison graduates who go on to a four-year college. Nationally, only 13 percent of low-income students actually earn a bachelor’s degree. Currently, 37% of MMSD high school students are from low income families.

“The Madison Metropolitan School District is thrilled to be a part of this program geared at helping our students paint brighter futures,” said Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for secondary schools. “This kind of community involvement and dedication to the students is an important part of helping ensure students have the chance to thrive while pursuing a bachelor’s degree.”

This initiative is based on two successful programs developed in California (AVID) and Milwaukee (Sponsor-A-Scholar) with nearly 20 years of experience helping students complete high school and then successfully earn post-secondary degrees. The BGC-MMSD initiative aims to see similar results of a 98 percent graduation rate, with 95 percent of participants going on to college.

About $1.5 million of the $2.6 million will come from the Burke Foundation, created by late Richard Burke. “Dick Burke was a pragmatic visionary, clearly making a difference in our community by investing in the leaders of tomorrow, making the Burke Foundation’s support for the Boys & Girls Club Teens of Promise a natural fit for his legacy,” said Jane Moore, a member of the board of the Burke Foundation that is administered by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “This exemplary public/private partnership builds on the track record of two effective programs – Sponsor A Scholar and AVID – that benefit deserving high school students, helping them to realize their dream of going to college.” 

"AVID joins the district in commending Boys and Girls Club for committing these resources in such a significant manner to benefit students in Madison,” said Jim Nelson, executive director of AVID Center in California.  “As a program new to Madison, we appreciate the opportunity to expand our partnership with the district and now with Boys and Girls Club's assistance, to further enhance the college readiness opportunities for so many young people." 

“For this effort to be truly successful, we’ll need the community to step forward to be mentors to students, provide summer internships and match the $2.6 million already raised,” said Mary Burke of the Boys & Girls Club. “I’m confident our community will rise to the challenge and help meet the needs of our future leaders.”


Mary Burke, 347-5161

Joe Quick, 663-1902