College for Kids Opens Pathways

May 9, 2019

For nearly 40 years, young people ages 5 to 18 have been coming to UWM’s campus during the summer to learn things like pottery, yoga, astronomy, sign language, and computer coding. These are just a few of the topics that participants can explore in this year’s College for Kids & Teens. Since 1978, an estimated 50,000 children have participated in this popular program.

“Our overarching theme is STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and math,” explains Director Ben LaDuke. “But we also follow the creed that our classes are hands-on, project-based learning in a fun and exciting setting on a college campus.”

This exposure to a university environment is important because it allows children the opportunity to picture themselves going to college. However, not all families can afford the tuition, which starts at $95 for a single one-week class. That’s why, for the past four years, Bader Philanthropies has provided scholarships for children who could not otherwise attend the program.

“Our mission is to improve the quality of life in our diverse communities, and we see College for Kids & Teens doing just that,” says Bridgett Gonzalez, program officer for Bader Philanthropies. “We want children to have experiences like this that spur their creativity, expose them to new ideas, and spark a thirst for lifelong learning.”

Marsha Porth Voeltner says one of these classes opened up a whole new world for her son. “He found his passion building chain reaction machines because of this class,” she says. “He’s friended and met other machine builders from around the world through YouTube, and has done projects with them in Michigan and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, California. Now a high school junior, he is interested in mechanical engineering.”

Ben LaDuke says he’s spoken with countless students whose career paths were affected by classes they took through College for Kids & Teens. “This experience gives these kids the belief in themselves to achieve a college education and beyond.”