There’s still time for public school students to apply for free Pathways to Princeton program

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Sixth-grade students enrolled in public schools on the West Side could get a “pathway to Princeton” or any university of their choice, thanks to a state grant awarded to the Austin-area organization Bethel New Life.

The Pathways to Princeton year-long program at Bethel New Life, 4950 W. Thomas Ave., will allow 20 sixth-grade students to meet professionals in the career of their dreams, pursue interests in arts and academics, and visit Princeton University in spring 2013.

Parents and guardians will also gain resources to support their child’s academic goals and help their child follow their success plan to a great college, among others.

Current sixth-grade students attending Track E Cicago public elementary schools in Austin, North Lawndale, West Garfield Park and East Garfield Park are eligible.

Bethel New Life received a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services to run the program.

Sherry Cobbins, the program’s managing director, said the state recognized the community group in February for its grant and gave Bethel New Life the autonomy to create Pathways to Princeton.

Cobbins said to her knowledge, Bethel New Life’s program is the first of its kind on the West Side.

Bethel New Life’s Aechari Wright, who is involved with the program’s application-selection process, said the 12-month course focuses on education but also helps kids become “well rounded, culturally aware students who can positively contribute to their communities and to establish a pathway not only to college, but beyond.”

“We’re looking for the best and the brightest,” Wright said.

“Not only are we looking for students with great grades and attendance, we are looking at the whole student. We do realize that test scores are not all that make up students.”

Wright said the program, which meets two Saturdays per month and during Track E breaks, aims to expose kids to as many opportunities as possible.

“There is a world outside the four corners of the street they live on,” she said.

Prospective students need to apply to be part of the program. Applications are due March 26 by 5 p.m. All the necessary materials can be found here. Students will need to submit the five page application, two letters of recommendation and their most recent report card.

“We encourage all students to apply,” Wright said.

“There is always room for improvement. I believe every child should go to college.”

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