WIU and RI High School receive $70,000 grant


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Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2012, 10:54 pm
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By Anthony Watt awatt@qconline.com
Western Illinois University and Rock Island High School have received a $70,000 grant to help at-risk teens.

The grant was presented Thursday at a ceremony at the high school, 1400 25th Ave. It was given by AT&T Foundation, AT&T Inc.'s philanthropy organization. The money will be used to help WIU's counselor education department and the high school's PACERS (Positive Achievement and Creativity Equals Righteous Success) program.

The PACERS program provides mentoring and academic support for high school freshman who are deemed high risk. It is meant to give them help in their personal, social and academic lives.

"We work with the kids on ways to be more successful," said PACERS administrator Holly Nikels, who is an associate professor of counseling at WIU.

She said AT&T donated $400,000 to the program four years ago, and that the $70,000 will provide funding for another two years.

Before the funding, the program had been a volunteer effort that had been operating for about four years, she said. At that time, PACERS was helping about 15 students. Since the funding began, 52 students have participated, and about 30 of those are still in the program.

Students are chosen as candidates by their middle school counselors, she said.

Assistance provided by the program includes help with their school supplies, and access to mentoring, college visits, job shadowing and volunteer opportunities, Ms. Nikels said. The funding also pays for a counselor who works exclusively with the PACER students during the week.

All of the students in the program have successfully completed school or are on track to graduate or get their GED, she said. Two are taking dual-credit courses, and about half of the students still in the program are on honor roll.



















 



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