Marquette College Bound Scholars program named Mentor Program of the Year by MENTOR Greater Milwaukee

Jan. 18, 2024

College Bound Scholars logoMILWAUKEE — Marquette University’s College Bound Scholars program was recognized as Mentor Program of the Year by MENTOR Greater Milwaukee at its annual symposium Thursday, Jan. 18.

The College Bound Scholars Program encompasses six precollege programs, including Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search. These programs annually serve more than 900 low-income and first-generation students who reside in Milwaukee. The Mentor Program of The Year award is given to mentor program partners within MGM’s network that continue to go above and beyond the call to serve Milwaukee's youth and young professionals.

“We are thrilled and humbled to receive this recognition and extend our sincere thanks to MENTOR Greater Milwaukee for its continuous support in our efforts to help students achieve their academic and personal goals,” said Laiya Thomas, executive director of the Educational Opportunity Program. “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of each member of our team, as well as the unwavering commitment of our mentors to the students we serve. We believe that every young person deserves access to the resources, skills, and guidance they need to succeed, and we are proud to be part of a community that shares this vision.”

The six College Bound Scholars programs primarily target students from economically diverse backgrounds, potential first-generation college graduates and those historically underrepresented in higher education. Through a range of specialized programs, it aims to equip these youths with the skills, support, and resources necessary for successful high school completion, college enrollment, and career achievement.

Programs include:

  • Upward Bound Classic provides guidance and support for successful college entry and completion and recruits students from Milwaukee during eighth grade.
  • Upward Bound Math and Science prepares college-bound high school students, particularly those interested in STEM fields, beginning in ninth grade.
  • Educational Talent Search identifies and supports secondary students from diverse economic backgrounds with academic, career, and financial counseling to increase persistence in high school and promote admission to postsecondary institutions.
  • Project RISE focuses on developing interest in and preparedness for higher education and careers in STEM, particularly technology and cybersecurity. This program provides college readiness services and academic enrichment for high school and middle school students, emphasizing cybersecurity.
  • SOAR Cyber Explorers Program serves hundreds of middle and high school students, including a subgroup focused on cybersecurity, in Milwaukee Public Schools and other academies.
  • H.A.M.P.S. Male Mentoring Program aims to educate and empower boys and young men of color beyond traditional educational settings, focusing on developing skills and mindsets necessary for navigating life positively and productively.

Marquette EOP and College Bound Scholar alumni and community volunteers mentor current participants, talk to project students about college studies and campus life, make presentations at project workshops and seminars, and attend project functions. Mentors receive training and resource materials from MENTOR Greater Milwaukee. Once trained, mentors and mentees engage in activities focused on life-skills, leadership development, and powerful networking opportunities. Mentors tutor students in selected Milwaukee target schools as well as online and in events held on Marquette’s campus.

EOP has celebrated over 50 years of serving students who are historically underrepresented in higher education, including students who have the potential of being the first in their families to graduate from college and students from diverse economic backgrounds.

EOP was created as an institutional program under the leadership of Arnold Mitchem in 1969, who went on to serve as the president of the Council for Opportunity in Education. The program started with just 40 students and one staff member, but the incredible students, along with supportive faculty, staff, university leadership and the Milwaukee community, helped EOP flourish into what became a model for other college access and opportunity programs and the United States Department of Education’s federally funded TRIO programs, which are located on college campuses throughout the country.

MENTOR Greater Milwaukee is powered by the Milwaukee Bucks and is an affiliate of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. MGM is an advocate for the expansion of quality mentoring in Metro Milwaukee and a resource for mentors and mentoring initiatives county-wide. MGM will work collaboratively across sectors to support existing and emerging organizations that provide mentoring services to youth.

About Marquette University

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee that offers a comprehensive range of majors in 11 nationally and internationally recognized colleges and schools. Through the formation of hearts and minds, Marquette prepares our 11,100 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional students to lead, excel and serve as agents of positive change. And, we deliver results. Ranked in the top 20% of national universities, Marquette is recognized for its undergraduate teaching, innovation and career preparation as the sixth-best university in the country for job placement. Our focus on student success and immersive, personalized learning experiences encourages students to think critically and engage with the world around them. When students graduate with a Marquette degree, they are truly prepared and called to Be The Difference.

About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the associate director for university communication in the Office of University Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or