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Milwaukee Area Technical College announced today an expansion of the MATC technology scholarship program which has supplied Chromebooks to students who lack computer access needed to participate in learning in the COVID-19 environment. This will allow all current and new MATC Promise students access to a Chromebook and a hotspot for internet connectivity for one year if they don’t currently have access to them. A limited number of Chromebooks and hotspots also will be available to the entire student population.
Lack of computer access spotlights a serious equity gap in Wisconsin. A May 2020 Wisconsin Public Policy Forum report shows that statewide, 13.6 percent of Black residents and 11 percent of Hispanic/Latinx residents lack broadband access. For white residents, the statewide average is 5.8 percent.
The expansion of MATC’s program was funded, in part, by American Family Insurance, which donated $40,000 to a Digital Divide Fund at the Milwaukee Area Technical College Foundation, Inc., to help support efforts to close the gap between students who have computer access and those who do not. In addition, American Family Insurance also donated $10,000 to the MATC Foundation’s Dreamkeepers’ Fund for student emergency grants.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed colleges, universities and K-12 schools, education has primarily been delivered virtually, via home computers and internet access. MATC estimates that approximately 25 percent of students in some programs did not have sufficient online access to continue their studies.
“We are grateful to American Family for supporting our students’ education at this critical time,” said Dr. Vicki Martin, MATC president. “Access to technology has become a lifeline for students to remain in school. Many in our student body experience the digital divide and lack sufficient computer access and reliable internet. Through this and other funding partnerships, we are able to meet this need.”
MATC estimates serving at least 1,500 students through this fund in the coming academic year. Along with the donation from American Family Insurance, additional funds have been committed by MATC through its FCC Spectrum Trust and through donors of the MATC Promise. The MATC Promise for Adults and MATC Promise for New High School Graduates programs mean free tuition for qualified students after financial aid has been applied.
“We recognize the overwhelming need for digital access, and it has become even more clear during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maritza Contreras, American Family Insurance strategic partnerships advisor. “We are proud to partner with MATC to advance equity and help bridge the gap in our communities to ensure all students have access to technology and quality education.”
Students may apply for both MATC Promise programs until July 17. For more information, visit: www.matc.edu/promise.
About Milwaukee Area Technical College:
Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. Nearly 35,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 150 academic programs; and transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 35 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
About MATC FCC Spectrum Trust:
The MATC FCC Spectrum Trust was established when MATC’s District Board, as license holder for Milwaukee PBS, made the strategic decision to participate in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadcast incentive auction. MATC received one-time proceeds of $84 million as a result of its voluntary participation in the auction, created to free up bandwidth to accommodate the growing capacity needs for wireless technology. Annual earnings proceeds are being utilized to advance MATC’s educational mission of transforming lives, industry and community.
About the American Family Insurance Group:
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes American Family Connect Property and Casualty Insurance Company, the proposed new legal name of Ameriprise Auto & Home, The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.