Increasing access to a college education is a contributor to developing a strong, dynamic and diverse workforce. Old National Bank is contributing to a program at the University of Michigan that is created to do just that.

U-M’s Wolverine Pathways program is designed to provide a pathway to higher education for youth from traditionally lower socioeconomic communities and communities who have a low track record of successfully sending students to the University of Michigan.  Students from the Detroit, Ypsilanti and Southfield school districts can participate in Wolverine Pathways, where they receive year-round learning experiences that culminate in four years of tuition free education if they are accepted to the University of Michigan.

Students at a Wolverine Pathways Kick-Off.

Students in the program participate in seasonal sessions throughout the year at their school district through completion of the 12th grade. “We don’t just want them ‘Michigan ready’, we want them ‘world ready,’” echoes the staff at Wolverine Pathways.

The program provides educational and leadership training, but often students are in need of more than that. Additional factors outside of the program that are essential to students’ success include supplies like backpacks and computers, internet connections, transportation to programs, and meals.

Alex Strati, Regional CEO at Old National Bank, was intrigued by the program and wanted to find a meaningful way to help.

Central to the mission of the Old National Bank Foundation is identifying charitable organizations that address defined community needs and developing strategic partnerships with them. Nell Dority, Senior Director of the Business Engagement Center, brought the opportunity to Jamie Guise’s attention and the two of them found a way to connect their organizations.

Jamie Guise, Senior Vice President for Community Engagement at Old National Bank (and alum and proud U-M parent), knew this program would be a great fit for the Foundation’s community mission.

Old National Bank presented their donation to the Wolverine Pathways program on a recent campus visit.

Old National Bank presented their donation to the Wolverine Pathways program on a recent campus visit.

She shares, “At Old National, we are committed to investing in our communities and strive to support programs that provide accessibility to education and economic development opportunities. We appreciate the shared values between Old National and the University of Michigan to work towards this goal.”

Through a grant from the Old National Bank Foundation, they are providing funding for laptops for students in the program.

Carla O’Connor, the director of Wolverine Pathways says, “Additional funding like this from Old National is mission critical to our program. It allows us to go the extra mile and provide important resources that our students need to succeed. Knowing that we have the support from other organizations is a reminder that this is a priority not just for the University of Michigan but for all of us.”

Students presenting their projects at a Wolverine Pathways showcase.

Students presenting their projects at a Wolverine Pathways showcase.

Funding from corporate partners makes a big difference in what the program can do. And the program is working: in the first year of potential applicants, 90% of Wolverine Pathways students who applied to U-M were admitted, significantly exceeding the average state acceptance rate of 20%. Of the 88 Wolverine Pathways high school seniors in 2018, 41 students are expected to enroll at UM-Ann Arbor and 27 at UM-Dearborn.

Find more information about Wolverine Pathways here.

Find more information about Old National Bank here.

Find more information about the Business Engagement Center here.