Educators know first grade is a critical year for literacy and fourth grade is important for mathematics. Students who get lost at these levels, particularly those who come from low-income families where parents are working long hours, may never catch up.
PEOPLE Prep is an expansion down the pipeline to reach children earlier with a focus on specific skills in reading, writing and math.
In the fall of 2005, the program began with 51 Madison elementary students and 12 UW tutors at the community learning centers for Northport Apartments and Packer Town Homes on Madison's northeast side. The program is held after school for two hours, twice a week.
Tutors are elementary education students at UW-Madison. They help the children with homework, read to them and play skill-building games.
The program prepares children for eventual admission to the PEOPLE Middle School Program.
The PEOPLE pipeline moves in both directions. The oldest group of PEOPLE students now attends the UW on scholarship. They started in high school when the program first began in 1999, completed the requirements and qualified for admission.
Today they volunteer as mentors to the youngest students, establishing friendships, becoming pen pals and planning campus visits for PEOPLE Prep elementary children.