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Last update: 6/17/08

[University of Wisconsin-Green Bay News Release]

For Immediate Release:

June 11, 2008

Major donations marked for Phuture Phoenix scholarships

GREEN BAY - Three major donations to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's Phuture Phoenix program were announced Wednesday (June 11) at a parting reception hosted by outgoing Chancellor Bruce Shepard and his wife Cyndie.

Local philanthropist Irene 'Billie' Daniell Kress has made the first leadership gift to a $5 million scholarship fund earmarked for the Phuture Phoenix program. The Kress gift will kick-start an ongoing endowment fund for the program that helps Northeast Wisconsin's youth pursue a post-secondary education.

The scholarships from that endowment which will be called the Billie Kress Phuture Phoenix Scholarships will be awarded to participants in the Phuture Phoenix program who intend to enroll at UW-Green Bay. Kress said she made the gift in honor of Cyndie Shepard and Ginny Riopelle, who co-founded the program.

"Education is very important to me and always has been in my family," Kress said. "To me, the Phuture Phoenix Scholarship Fund will be a beacon that leads students onward, letting them know that their dream of attaining a college education is possible. It will open up a whole new world for these kids who may never otherwise have that opportunity."

Also announced Wednesday, a group of area families donated funds toward a $10,000 endowment that will offer scholarships in Cyndie Shepard's name. The endowment will allow for $500 scholarships to be awarded to Phuture Phoenix participants.

Finally, Chancellor Shepard announced that as a last contribution to the university he led for seven years, the Shepards themselves started an endowment fund for the Phuture Phoenix Program.

"Phuture Phoenix is, and continues to be, a stepping stone for fifth graders who may one day pursue a degree beyond high school," Shepard said. "It is never too early to encourage students to complete high school and further their education. We hope all these scholarships will further benefit the youth of the region and get them thinking about taking the next step toward a brighter future."

Phuture Phoenix is a program that supports and encourages fifth graders in Northeastern Wisconsin to continue their education beyond 12th grade. UW-Green Bay college students serve as role models for the fifth graders and continue contact with them through the middle and high school years, motivating them to continue on to a university, college or technical college.

Phuture Phoenix has partnered with the Green Bay Title I elementary schools and with the West De Pere and Oneida Nation school districts. Elementary schools in Bonduel, Bowler, Oconto, Suring, Shawano and Sturgeon Bay also participate through an outreach program.

Its first participants are now juniors in high school and will be eligible for scholarships from the endowment funds in the 2010-11 academic year.

"These gifts will really carry the momentum this program has forward," said Phuture Phoenix Director Kim Desotell. "They will allow us to take the seed that Cyndie (Shepard) has planted and grow it for the children in the area. Phuture Phoenix will continue to send the message to children that they can go to college."

Bruce and Cyndie Shepard are leaving UW-Green Bay as Chancellor Shepard will become president at Western Washington University later this summer.

The Phuture Phoenix will continue under the leadership of Desotell and Stephanie Pabich, Phuture Phoenix associate director.

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08-149 | Contact: Mike Heine, (920) 465-2526

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