Enrichment & Exposure in Secondary Literacy: Evaluating a Programmatic Response to Institutional Diversity Initiatives

The following paper presents the findings from an evaluative research project that investigated the merits and challenges of an academic bridge program between Milwaukee Public School high school students and the University of Wisconsin Madison. Using a mixed-method design, the researchers fo-cused on evaluating the three-week writing workshops held during the first two summers of the pro-gram. Data were collected from students who had already taken the workshops and currently are en-rolled at the university. The analysis reflects needed alterations in the program as well as political and educational struggles indicative of large urban districts that are beyond the scope of the program. The researchers discuss the tension between providing multicultural learning experiences that are geared towards enriching students’ engagement in writing and with literature, on the one hand, and providing more technical skill-based exercises to supplement gaps in their high school curricula on the other. The researchers suggest that bridge programs that attempt to recruit and retain students from urban areas with high fluctuations in academic rigor from school to school face certain challenges when building a comprehensive program that meets the needs of the targeted population. As public universities continue to address disparities among various groups that have access to higher education, attempts to connect universities to the varying affective and academic needs of African American, Latino, and Asian Ameri-can students from urban districts prove an important piece of these ongoing conversations.