Students Kick-Off Their Summer Vacations at CUScholars Enrichment Experiences

Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF) is working this summer to get outgoing freshmen more excited about learning and to help prepare outgoing sophomores for real life.  CUSF is leading a collaborative effort with Parkland College, the University of Illinois Extension, area businesses and volunteers along with our local high schools to host professional development workshops for more than 200 Centennial, Central and Urbana High School students enrolled in its CUScholars Program.  The workshops will be at Parkland College on June 5 and 6.

Freshman Focus helps students understand the need for rigor in their high school academic schedule, and provides an opportunity to learn about careers in growing fields such as science, technology, and engineering.  Corrinne Hillard from HL Precision Manufacturing will present an overview of 21st century manufacturing and discuss opportunities in the industry, particularly for women. Hillard says, “My goal in speaking at the CU Scholars conference is to properly educate students about what manufacturing really means, the vast career opportunities it provides and the very bright future in store for manufacturing in America.”

Through Freshman Focus students will gain a better understanding of their leadership style and how they can best contribute in a group setting through an activity led by 4-H Youth Development staff.  University of Illinois Nanotechnology Lab will teach students how 3D printing works and its applications.  Freshmen will also learn about black holes at the Staerkel Planetarium and use math to solve crimes.

Sophomore Experience stresses real life skills such as budgeting and job hunting. Debbie Moore of Express Personnel, along with a panel of local professionals, will discuss what “soft skills” employers look for and field questions from students. Moore is interested in helping students prepare for the future, and expects to see some of these students in their local office in a few years.  Moore adds, “I have found that clients, supervisors, professors and trainers all have the same problem—today’s work force is lacking soft skills.” According to Moore, soft skills include good communication and problem solving, self-confidence, time management, strong work ethic and a positive attitude. By presenting at Sophomore Experience, she hopes to raise awareness of what soft skills are and to train students on how to improve them.

In the CUScholars Budget Challenge sophomores will be given a career and salary and then will have to make choices about housing, transportation, food, saving, entertainment and donating to charity.   Kelly Loschen, a CPA at Martin Hood Friese and Associates, organized the activity.  Her colleagues and Busey Bank employees will facilitate.  Young Entrepreneurs Tim Deppen and Nishana Ismail of Servabo, Inc. and Supriya Hobbs of Miss Possible, Inc. will share with students their passion for entrepreneurship, why they decided to follow their dreams and how they did it.

CUScholars is a comprehensive student achievement program of the CU Schools Foundation open to all incoming freshmen at Centennial, Central and Urbana High Schools with the purpose of preparing students for more choices after graduation.   CUScholars focuses on academics, volunteerism, financial literacy, career exploration and attendance.  And, CUSF isn’t doing this alone.  The non-profit foundation is actively collaborating with the local business community, Parkland College, the University of Illinois and local teachers and administrators to implement this program.  The CUScholars Program is free to students and is supported by private business and families in the community.  The major corporate donors are Busey Bank, Herff Jones, Horizon Hobby and County Market. Over 700 students now participate.  The Foundation is on target to increase that number to over 1400 within two years.

To learn more about CUSF and the CUScholars Program visit or call 217-398-2873.

Public Service Announcement

CU Schools Foundation is hosting two professional development workshops for students enrolled in their CUScholars Program on June 4 and 5 at Parkland College.  Freshmen Focus gives students a chance to delve a bit deeper into academics and explore some new areas, while the Sophomore Experience focuses on getting kids ready for real life.  CUScholars is a comprehensive student achievement program of the CU Schools Foundation that focuses on academics, volunteerism, financial literacy, career exploration and attendance. To learn more about CUSF and the CUScholars Program visit or call 217-398-2873.