MADISON — University of Wisconsin System President Katharine Lyall today announced that Ameritech has awarded a $1.5 million grant in support of Plan 2008, the Systemwide initiative to increase educational quality through greater racial and ethnic diversity.
The announcement was made during the regular meeting of the UW System Board of Regents. Joining Lyall was Ameritech Wisconsin President James Nellen II.
“Ameritech believes strongly that higher education is a principal vehicle for social and economic advancement,” said Nellen. “It is vital to a free and democratic society that all segments of our state community participate fully in the economic abundance generally enjoyed by our citizens. We hope that this grant will further the university’s effort to achieve a diversity that better reflects the human potential of the community outside the academic village.”
The grant will support expanded pre-college programs at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee (each will receive $600,000 over the four-year life of the grant) and will provide $300,000 for closely related initiatives of the Multicultural Information Center, a program of the UW System Administration that is housed at the University Center for Continuing Education in downtown Milwaukee.
Pre-college programs identify and connect with students as early as the fourth grade, beginning an educational and mentoring process that continues through college. The goal is to increase the chance of enrollment by providing encouragement and enrichment at an early age.
Pre-college programs are the focus of the UW System’s Plan 2008, which the Board of Regents adopted in 1998. Campus-specific initiatives under Plan 2008 were announced in June, and all campuses are now implementing those plans. The System hopes to triple the number of students of color and the economically disadvantaged in pre-college programs during the coming decade. Currently, less than 2 percent of eligible students of color participate in such programs.
A recent study shows that students who participate in a pre-college program graduate from high school at a rate of 92 percent, and have a college participation rate of more than 65 percent. UW System institutions have offered pre-college programs for more than 10 years.
“This grant is great news,” said Lyall. “The UW System is committed to reaching and supporting future students who may think college is simply impossible. This grant, and others we hope to receive, sends these students a clear message: college is not only possible, but necessary. Your economic status or your skin color need not hold you back. A pre-college program can lead to success, both now and after high school.”
The recently signed state budget included $732,600 for pre-college programs in the UW System, as well as another $1 million to fund items related to Plan 2008 systemwide. State funds will help expand pre-college programming and provide for year-round follow-through.
“This partnership of the state, the universities, and corporations such as Ameritech reflects a consensus that diversity (on campus and in the workplace) is important, and that pre-college programs are a good way to achieve it,” said Lyall.
Nellen added that “Ameritech is pleased to be the first major contributor to this undertaking.” He described Plan 2008 as “a laudable effort,” with a goal that “is especially appropriate for a great state university” and which “deserves our collective support.”
This is the second grant made in recent years to the UW System by Ameritech. In 1996, a $522,000 grant supported the early start-up and expansion of HELP On-Line, an Internet site featuring an array of admissions information and an on-line enrollment application.
Ameritech is the premier provider of communications services in the Upper Midwest, with 13 million customers and more than 21 million access lines across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. It is a company of SBC Communications Inc. (www.sbc.com), a global communications leader. Through its trusted brands — Southwestern Bell, Ameritech, Pacific Bell, SBC Telecom, Nevada Bell, SNET and Cellular One — and world-class network, SBC provides local and long-distance phone service, wireless and data communications, paging, high-speed Internet access and messaging, cable and satellite television, security services and telecommunications equipment, as well as directory advertising and publishing. In the United States, the company currently has 87.3 million voice grade equivalent lines, 10.3 million wireless customers and is undertaking a national expansion program that will bring SBC service to an additional 30 markets. Internationally, SBC has telecommunications investments in 22 countries. With more than 200,000 employees, SBC is the 14th largest employer in the U.S., with annual revenues that rank it among the largest Fortune 500 companies.
Sharyn Wisniewski, UW System
Ralph Deptolla, Ameritech