The University of Michigan will launch a bold, new supplemental educational program designed to help students in targeted Michigan school districts be prepared to continue their education at U-M.

The initiative, called Wolverine Pathways, will be launched in January for students who live within the Ypsilanti and Southfield public school districts. Students do not need to be students in the Ypsilanti or Southfield public schools.

“Wolverine Pathways is an important next step for the University of Michigan as we continue to look for ways to identify talented students and cultivate U-M applicants from all parts of our state,” said President Mark Schlissel. He announced the program Friday during his annual Leadership Breakfast in the Michigan Union.

The program is offered at no cost to students and families. Each student who successfully completes the Wolverine Pathways program and is admitted to U-M will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship for four years.

The program will be offered in eight-week sessions during the fall, winter and summer. It will be housed in one school building within each school district. The initial classes will include up to 60 seventh-graders and 60 high school sophomores in each district. The program will grow each year to encompass students in grades seven through 12.

“As we continue to develop new approaches to diversify the pool of students applying for admission at U-M, we must do our part to make sure all talented students have the opportunity to access the world-class education we offer on our campus,” said Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs. The program is being funded by the Provost’s Office.

Wolverine Pathways features hands-on and project-based learning activities that extend and integrate core English-language arts, math and science content. The program will operate after school and on Saturday mornings during the winter and fall semesters. There also will be a summer session that includes learning activities, field trips, campus visits and internship opportunities.

Wolverine Scholars, as the students will be called, will be selected through an application process. Applicants need to have a 3.0 or higher grade point average, participate in extracurricular activities, be involved in community service and plan to attend college. Parents also are expected to participate in the program.

Leading the Wolverine Pathways initiative is Robert Jagers, associate professor of education. He is a developmental psychologist who studies the connections among culture, race and class and their impact on academic, social and emotional development of urban youth.

“We believe this program will be a great opportunity to connect with promising students and offer them additional learning opportunities that will supplement and complement their classroom experiences,” Jagers said.

He said Wolverine Pathways staff would work closely with teachers at a number of schools in the selected areas, and hopes that some teachers will want to formally be a part of the program.

“We will be reaching out to teachers and others already working in Southfield and Ypsilanti with the hope that we can develop strong partnerships that will help establish and grow this program over time,” Jagers said.

The professor said he expects Wolverine Pathways will spread to other school districts, and the university is especially eager to take the program into the city of Detroit.

“Our goal is for this program to support the development of informed and engaged citizens,” Jagers said. “We want to give these young people early opportunities that help them see possibilities and cultivate their fullest potential. We want to give them a sense of what it can be like to be a student on the U-M campus.”

Additional details and application materials will be available soon through the Wolverine Pathways website, through the program office in Ann Arbor and through all public, charter and private schools located within the boundaries of the Ypsilanti and Southfield school districts.