Watertown picked for Text Steps program

September 18, 2018

MADISON -- Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates has selected 15 public school districts across Wisconsin to participate in the Text Steps project, including Watertown Unified School District. With a combined $630,000 in grants, the districts will launch summer texting programs to help more of their college-bound graduates begin classes on schedule.

Watertown Unified School District Superintendent Cassandra Schug said the grant is a “tremendous benefit” to the students.

“We know that as many as 40 percent of high school graduates who have been accepted to attend college never actually start their classes in the fall,” Schug said. This is attributed to ‘summer melt’ when students lose access to critical resources like the high school counseling staff to assist them in making the transition to beginning their college course work.”

There is an increasingly high number of high school graduates who come from underserved communities but don’t attend college in the fall.

The reason is simple. Without the support of counselors who guided them through the admission and financial aid application processes, many students are unable to complete critical tasks over the summer, like finalizing financial aid packages, registering for orientation and confirming campus housing. The Text Steps project provides start-up funding and other support the districts need to launch summer texting programs designed to help students compete final steps on the path to college.

While access to mobile phone technology continues to expand, Great Lakes recognizes that disparities in cellphone access persist for the poorest families. Throughout the grant period, the Text Steps grant team will work with the school districts to better understand and remove barriers to student participation.

“The Watertown Unified School District is grateful to our counseling staff and specifically Kerry Neimon for spearheading the application for this grant,” Schug said. “We think it will be a tremendous benefit to our graduates, and it will help us ensure they are successful after they leave our doors and take the next steps in pursuing their education.”

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