What is PEOPLE?

Our History

PEOPLE started in 1999 with 66 students from Milwaukee. Today, we serve over 1,100 students. The program recruits students in 8th grade and partners with students to help them reach their goals of college attainment and degree completion.  PEOPLE consists of two programs:  one specific to precollege students and one specific to college scholars at UW-Madison.

We accept students in 8th grade only. The program is designed for low-income and potential first generation college students.  These populations have traditionally been overlooked and underserved for college admissions.  Their journey in PEOPLE prepares them to be a viable college candidate, apply for admission to, and enroll at the University of Wisconsin System institution, with an emphasis on UW-Madison.

Students who enroll at UW-Madison may be eligible for a four-year tuition scholarship.

PEOPLE operates under the Office of the Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer’s Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement and is based on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

PEOPLE differs from other precollege programs by working with students, families, teachers and counselors to provide the sustained individual attention critical for being academically, psychologically and culturally prepared to succeed at the college academic level.

Our Strategy


  • THE VILLAGE Everyone from university administrators and after-school tutors to parents and teachers has created a college-going culture around these students.
  • INDIVIDUAL PERSEVERANCE When PEOPLE students emerge on campus and realize they can achieve their dreams, they are unstoppable.
  • RIPPLE EFFECT Success is infectious – students who started in the program five and six years ago are setting a positive example. Our undergraduate students, who we call College Scholars, are now reaching back as tutors, mentors and role models to pull younger students through the pipeline.
  • GRASSROOTS Word-of-mouth among educators, counselors and students has generated positive awareness for a PEOPLE as a “pre-college program that works.”

“The program’s success would not be possible without all those who shared a vision during the early years. When greater opportunities are given to students of color and low-income youth, we all reap the advantages a diversity of voices brings to our campus and our world.” — Walter Lane, former PEOPLE Program Director