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Waukegan to College program prepares students for future

6/28/12    ClarendHills

LaurRios with Waukegan College Readiness Program meets with Guadalupe Bueno her mother Guadalupe Bueno as they

6/28/12 Clarendon Hills Laura Rios, with the Waukegan College Readiness Program, meets with Guadalupe Bueno and her mother Guadalupe Bueno as they discuss her daughter's summer reading program on Thursday, June 28th. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media

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to College Fund-raiser

What: Brighter Futures Dance

When: 7-11 p.m. Saturday, July 28

Where: Christ Episcopal Church, 410 Grand Ave., Waukegan

Cost: $8 Ages 16/up; $3 ages 13-15; under age 12 admitted free

Tickets: Call Laura Rios (224) 612-0561

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Updated: September 10, 2012 2:00AM

WAUKEGAN — A local organization stepped out from its umbrella organization to launch as its own independent nonprofit.

Waukegan to College (W2C) started preparing students from fifth grade and up to prepare for college in 2009. In June, it launched from Lake County United (LCU) as a stand-alone organization.

“Lake County United was an incubator for our program,” said W2C Executive Director Elyse Danckers.

The idea for W2C came from listening sessions that LCU held. LCU is a non partisan organization of churches and other nonprofits across the county working to benefit the common good. Waukegan parents voiced education as a key concern. From that research, W2C was born, Danckers said.

The program started in the fall of 2009, serving about 25 students from 18 families. The fall 2012 roster has 60 students from about 35 families.

“Waukegan is blessed to have a lot of families concerned with the futures of their children. We are helping them get their children on the path to college,” Danckers said.

Micah Glaze, 19, of Waukegan has been in W2C since its inception. When he was a Waukegan High School student, he took advantage of W2C’s ACT preparation, one-on-one tutoring and its Read to Achieve Program. He is now studying elementary education at Millikin University, an independent university in Decatur.

“It’s been good for a start program. From its first year to now, I see a lot of great improvement. I like the program. It’s very family-oriented,” Glaze said.

The programs are free and not limited to straight-A students, said Glaze’s mother Tonya Glaze of Waukegan.

“Waukegan to College is taking any and everybody as long as they have drive, and parents and children have commitment,” Tonya said.

All four of her children, ages 12, 14, 17 and 19, are enrolled in W2C programs. The organization has several programs and one-on-one counseling and mentoring designed to prepare students from fifth grade and up to go straight to college after high school. They help prepare students academically and help navigate them and their families through the college admission process.

W2C is staffed with three part-time employees and a corps of about 90 volunteers. It operates from private donations and does not receive any government funding. It will continue working with LCU as a member organization.

LCU lead organizer Matt McDermott said this was the first time LCU incubated a program with the intent to spin it off on its own.

“Our role is not to be a service provider. We’re more of a community organization, so we saw that need. We got the program together,” McDermott said. “We’re still working closely (with W2C). We’re excited they’re growing and doing well.”

W2C is planning to develop its programming to have some age-specific workshops.

“We are recognizing that the needs of high school students are very different from the needs of middle school students,” Danckers said.

Christ Episcopal Church provides space for the program. The Rev. Eileen Shanley-Roberts of Waukegan said the church welcomes all students in the program. She is a W2C board member who has been involved since the program started.

“I think it’s incredibly exciting that we forged a strong relationship with the school district and everyone is on the same page,” Shanley-Roberts said. “The kids stay on track for college degrees or some other post-high school training.”

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