The Cigna Foundation is helping the University of Missouri–St. Louis continue its longstanding efforts to prepare area high school students of every background for college success through the Bridge Program‘s Saturday Academy.

The charitable arm of Cigna, the parent company of longtime Bridge Program benefactor Express Scripts, has awarded a $200,000 grant to continue supporting the free program, which has been providing college preparation courses since 1986.

“We’re proud that the Cigna Foundation will continue what the Express Scripts Foundation started seven years ago,” said Susan Stith, president of the Cigna Foundation. “By partnering with the UMSL Bridge Program, we’re able to address and positively impact the education and workforce development of high schoolers in St. Louis. We know that if we can help advance students from high school to college, and help them stay there, they will live happy, healthier, longer, more productive lives as adults – and their success will impact and influence future generations to come.”

Last year, 272 students, including 53 seniors, completed the program virtually, taking classes in mathematics, science and written and oral communication. Bridge also places a strong emphasis on career, personal and professional development through additional structured courses for all participants in the Saturday Academy.

Participating parents also had the opportunity to take part in variety of well-rounded workshops specifically designed to provide effective strategies for supporting the growth and development of their college-going students through the Bridge Program Saturday Parent Academy.

channon Peoples

Last year, 272 students, including 53 seniors, completed the program virtually, taking classes in mathematics, science and written and oral communication.

“Our tagline – Engage. Empower. Educate. – is in optimal practice during the Saturday Academy where 700+ students and parents are immersed in timely workshops designed to prepare them for the road ahead,” Bridge Program Director Channon Peoples said. “The Cigna grant is helping us open the door to the many possibilities of postsecondary education by providing project-based STEM learning opportunities, ACT preparation, writing and dialogue strategies, college preparation, and career development.”

The Saturday Academy is held on the first two Saturday mornings each month from October through February, and the Parent Academy takes place on the first Saturday morning each month.

Since 2003, 100% of graduates from the Saturday Academy have matriculated to college. Members of this year’s senior class were admitted to more than 120 colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education nationwide. More than 70% of them received two or more scholarship offers with 15% receiving full-tuition scholarship offers. Notably, approximately 54% of Bridge participants attend UMSL annually.

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