2019 Boys & Girls Club Summer Transition Conference
College Support & Beyond
|Top: Participants in the Boys & Girls Club’s
Summer Trasition Conference
Above: Glenna Scholle-Malone
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling
For the past 11 years, the Boys & Girls Club has teamed up with the Madison
Metropolitan School District to implement the in-school/out-of-school college
preparatory program AVID/TOPS in Madison’s schools.
After about five years of implementing the program, the Boys & Girls Club
realized that it wasn’t enough to prepare first generation, low-income and/or
students of color for college, the students needed a continuous stream of
support that would get the students through college and beyond. As the
AVID/TOPS students progress through their senior years of high school, the
“We have students who graduated from AVID/TOPS with a 4.0 GPA who know their majors, who won’t probably need to utilize our resources throughout their
trajectory through college completion,” Scholle-Malone said. “And then we have students on the opposite end of the spectrum. We’re dealing with a wide range of
students. We use a stop light system internally to indicate student need. Red is high need. Yellow means that they may be reaching out. Green is students whom we
know are good and we just like to check on them to encourage their continued success. But we know they have it and are assuming leadership roles on campus.
We are really connecting incoming students with those students on campuses where we already have students so that they have someone whom they can go to
who was a part of the program that they are just completing to say, ‘You were once in my shoes. Help me navigate this new world.’ They are in an ambassador type
In many cases, the club isn’t providing a lot of direct services to the college students. But like the parent or older sibling of the family, the staff counselors are
making sure that the students access resources, stay focused on their studies, get connected and don’t get isolated at college.
“Our goal as a program and what I am charged with is finding additional opportunities in institutions to partner with so that we can create those same models —
although every institution is unique so it looks a little different — across the institutions where our students are located,” Scholle-Malone said. “The staff at our
partner institutions also have physical office space on the campus, so the campuses provide office space when our coaches come to campus. The students know
what hours they will be there and when and where to find them. It’s making ourselves readily accessible in meeting students where they are, outside of our out-of-
state students. We reach many of them through social media, email and Facebook.”
Scholle-Malone is excited with the direction the college program is going. It’s innovative and it appears to be yielding results.
“It’s exciting and it’s kind of ground-breaking work because not a lot of organizations like ours and programs like ours have formalized partnerships with
institutions,” Scholle-Malone said.
“There really isn't any blueprint. We’re kind of learning as we go, which makes it a little challenging, but the award is worth it. May 2019, this past graduating class,
was our first year to be able to set our benchmark for the national benchmark for six-year graduation rates. We are at 45 percent, which is well above the national
average for students who are coming from these demographics and populations whom we serve. We know we are moving the needle.”
And in turn, the Boys & Girls Club’s AVID/TOPS College Success Program is helping many first-generation students move the needle in helping their families get out
of poverty. And that makes the whole investment worthwhile.
club’s AVID/TOPS College Success Program take over because the students often times will be first-generation
college students and don’t have the institutional familial history and expertise to back them up. And the first line of
support is helping the students find the right place to begin their collegiate experience.
“We go through award letters for students,” said Glenna Scholle-Malone, the club’s assistant vice-president for
college persistence and special projects. “Once they get accepted, that isn’t where it stops because often times,
students may get an award letter with a financial aid gap of $20,000 and say ‘That’s where I am going.’ We help them to
really step back and think about it. ‘We support whatever decision you want to make. However, we want it to be the
best informed decision. What’s your plan for raising $20,000?’ Often times, it comes a little later when the students are
ready to receive that information. But they do often make better decisions financially by selecting institutions that they
can better afford and make sure they don’t get to a campus and then have to leave because of an outstanding balance.
A new position that we have is our career-engagement coach. Isabel joined our team two weeks ago. We realize that
as students are graduating and earning their degrees, there has been a higher need of outreach for support around
internships and jobs. Her job is really going to be supporting our TOPS scholars to find summer internships and then
career placement after finishing their degrees, whether it is at a two-year or four-year institution.”
As the students exit high school and enter college, the club staff evaluates how much assistance the students may