Three Milwaukee Public Schools seniors are among just 1,000 nationwide to be named Gates Millennium Scholars this year, an honor that translates into a “good-through-graduation” scholarship to the college of each student’s choice paying for 100% of students’ unmet need.
The scholarships also provide funding graduate school if students opt to pursue graduate degrees in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.
All three MPS students worked with their school counselors – led by guidance directors Natalie Anderson at Riverside and Brian Schneider at South Division – as well as College Possible Milwaukee, a program dedicated to making college admission and success possible for low-income students through intensive coaching and support.
Gates Millennium Scholar Mayra Alaniz is a student at MPS’ South Division High School who will be attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Scholar Jessica Curry, a student at MPS’ Riverside University High School, will attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her Riverside classmate and fellow Gates Millennium Scholar Kali Huettl will be attending Clark Atlanta University.
“I want to thank these students, their families, their teachers, their counselors and College Possible for this remarkable accomplishment,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “We are proud that they are part of a growing group of college-bound MPS students.”
“College Possible is proud to have three students who participate in our program chosen as Gates Millennium Scholars,” said College Possible Executive Director Edie Turnbull. “Through their hard work together with their College Possible coaches, they are now able to attend their top choice schools without a financial burden. Kali, Jessica, and Mayra are positive role models for their families and students in the Milwaukee community.”
MPS has grown the percentage of students enrolling in postsecondary education within a year and half of high school graduation by roughly eight percentage points over five years to a rate now above 50%. The district’s college and career readiness efforts include:
- Opening two College Access Centers with late and weekend hours to help demystify the application process
- Comprehensive literacy and math/science plans aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards to put students on a track to college and career success
- Nearly doubling ACT participation from 43% in 2007-08 to more than 80% in 2011-12
- Growing the percentage of students taking AP courses by roughly four percentage points over the past four years
The goal of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, established in 1999 with a $1 billion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to “promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.” The program provides scholars with personal and professional development through leadership programs and academic support throughout their college careers.