College Possible

Tools

by Jessica Tighe

Every year in Wisconsin nearly 2,000 people dedicate themselves to serving the community as part of AmeriCorps. In Milwaukee, 26 of those people work with a local non-profit called College Possible that's committed to helping local kids get a higher education.

Marquelle Moorer, a senior at Hamilton High School in Milwaukee, is one of those kids. He doesn't mind staying after school to study and it's not because school comes easy. In fact, it can be tough for him, but it's getting easier thanks to the volunteers at College Possible.

"I'm proud to say because of them, I've passed my math class. Finally! For the first time it was like oh, I get it now," Moorer says with a huge smile on his face.

The College Possible coaches who work with the kids dedicate at least a year of service in return for valuable professional experience.

"AmeriCorps helps bring us those really dedicated recent college graduates, these young people who really want to change the world and we give them an opportunity to do that on a daily basis," Edie Turnball, Executive Director for College Possible explains.

The College Possible crew works with low-income students across Milwaukee. The coaches help juniors and seniors with their study skills and strategies to get into college. The ultimate goal is a college degree.

 

"I had a great college experience so I want to be able to give back to other communities and other kids who don't have all of those resources or don't have families that have gone to college," Kari Houghtaling, one of the College Possible coaches says.

Another College Possible coach, Jonathan Isaac, loves interacting with the kids on a daily basis. "That's why I've done it and these kids have such bright futures ahead and that's why I want to be there as they realize that potential they have," Isaac explains.

Their hard work is paying off. The kids say it's making a difference.

"It's helping me take college more seriously, not to mention that the coach is helping me get better with my ACTs," Daron Penns, a junior at Hamilton High says.

The Executive Director of College Possible describes the success of the program as tremendous. "I'm not using the word tremendous lightly. Last year we saw increases on average of about three points on the ACT. So our students' options for colleges went up dramatically," Turnball says.

Moorer is a great example. He just got accepted to 10 colleges. It's a huge accomplishment not just for him, but his entire family.

"Because of AmeriCorps and College Possible and me being a first generation student, I will be attending college in the fall which is going to be quite exciting because I have officially changed the legacy of my family," Moorer says.

The work starts with one, but it touches many. Isaac calls it the ripple effect. "By helping the students we help in Milwaukee, it ripples outward into the community whether inspiring younger siblings, inspiring a committee they live in or the neighbors who they see every day. That ripple effect starts out with these kids and ripples out to all of Milwaukee," he says.

Getting into college is the first goal. The second is success while there. College Possible sticks with the kids. It connects them to campus resources, builds a network of support and provides financial aid and scholarship application assistance.

 

 

 

 

 

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