McNeel Intermediate School

McNeel Intermediate School, 1524 Frederick St., is partnering with UW-Madison Department of Extension in a program to let students explore opportunities in education and careers.

BELOIT—A new program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will give youth in three Wisconsin counties the chance to work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension to explore post-high school educational and work opportunities.

The USDA’s Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) program awarded $640,000 to the UW-Madison Division of Extension and North Carolina Agricultural &Technical University, a Historically Black University, to launch the program “Nia: Pathways and Purpose for the Future.” Nia is a Swahili word meaning “purpose.”

Extension’s Project Nia is a new and distinct program.

According to the UW-Madison Division of Extension website, the program will focus on serving youth in Waukesha, Rock, and Kenosha Counties—three urban and suburban counties where Black, indigenous, and youth of color often experience disparities in transitioning from high school to college, careers, and the adult world. Nia also will serve youth in limited-income rural communities in North Carolina.

“McNeel Intermediate School, Home of the Lancers, is excited to partner with University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension on this grant, and we are appreciative of all the opportunities this will afford our students,” said Michelle Hendrix-Nora, principal of McNeel Intermediate.

Additional collaborators include the Beloit College Help Yourself Program and UW-Rock County.

“Together, we will work with our young students to build social awareness as they interact with older youth and adults from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) backgrounds. We want our students to have access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) professionals, as well as interaction with students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, so that our students can learn of career pathways and develop mentors in those pathways.”