One of the most successful long-term diversity pipelines to higher education in the nation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) continues to increase the number of college-ready students applying to the state’s flagship campus.

On Friday, July 29, another 170 PEOPLE high school scholars and 95 incoming PEOPLE college scholar freshman from across Wisconsin will be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments thus far in the PEOPLE Program at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton. The annual Recognition Banquet will begin at noon. This year’s keynote speaker will be Cleveland James, former UW-Madison associate director of undergraduate admissions, who helped to develop PEOPLE.

The program will showcase the talents, accomplishments and educational dreams of rising high school seniors, who have just completed their final summer of year-round training for college – including ACT testing and participating in internships with departments across the UW-Madison campus and throughout the community along with five weeks living in University Housing.

The program also will showcase the largest incoming group of PEOPLE College Scholars who are completing a bridge-to-college program, which allows them to earn college credit going into their college freshman year. Of the 104 students who completed the rigorous pre-college program last summer and were accepted to UW-Madison, 95 chose to enroll here. Completion of the highly competitive pre-college segment of the program qualifies these students for a tuition scholarship to attend but does not guarantee admission into UW-Madison.

For some PEOPLE scholars, the senior high school year ahead is the culmination of up to seven years – and a few cases as many as 10 years — of family planning, sacrificed summers and testing, tutoring, contemplation, and acceptance that this is what it takes to not only get into college but earn a scholarship to one of the top institutions in the nation.

“PEOPLE is one of our high profile programs,” said Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims, who heads the division housing the PEOPLE program. “UW-Madison commissioned an outside evaluation of the PEOPLE programs as part of our ongoing commitment to serve a diverse student population. By connecting elementary, middle and high school students with the university. PEOPLE creates long-lasting relationships that are life-changing for many participants.”

Patrick J. Sims
Patrick J. Sims

One of the major philosophies of PEOPLE and all of the diversity division’s scholarship programs is ‘lifting as we climb,’ Sims said.

“We’re proud of the accomplishments our PEOPLE scholars attain as a result of being supported and developed,” Sims said. “From law degrees to interning at NASA and mentoring those who follow and working in their communities, our world, and global economy is better because of what they take away from the experience. We remain committed to continuing the enrichment support services with our PEOPLE community partners.”

Ranked as good, or better, than other precollege partners by campus and K-12 partners, the PEOPLE program has consistently accomplished its initial charge each year: Increasing the number of Wisconsin minority high school students who enroll at UW System schools.

In all, more than 1,500 underserved, low-income and first-generation Wisconsin students have entered higher education through PEOPLE.

Campus partners agree that PEOPLE helps to create a more diverse student body at UW-Madison. This is especially true relative to the presence of low-income, first-generation, students of color specifically from historically underserved communities throughout the state of Wisconsin.