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Deepening its commitment to closing the opportunity gap in Milwaukee, Northwestern Mutual, through its Foundation, today announced more than $3 million in grants to educational programs, nonprofits and local schools. The new grants support the company’s long-term focus on investing in high-quality education at targeted public, charter and choice schools in Southeast Wisconsin – investments that have eclipsed more than $50 million over the past 25 years.
“We have a core belief that access to a quality education, influential mentors and consistent career preparation lay the groundwork for a strong community and are crucial to life-long success,” said Ray Manista, executive vice president and chief legal and compliance officer at Northwestern Mutual, where he leads law and public affairs, including oversight of strategic philanthropy. “These grants will help bridge the social, economic and racial gaps facing far too many students in our community, helping them achieve their full educational potential.”
The company’s efforts to address educational disparities focus on supporting Milwaukee’s high-performing schools while building pathways – from kindergarten to employment – that will help close the opportunity gap among talented, yet underrepresented students. This year’s grants will assist with some of the most pressing needs that schools and nonprofit partners identify as areas for growth, including social and emotional learning (SEL), advanced technology in the classroom, alumni and family support and a strong curriculum spanning all three sectors of public, charter and choice schools.
Spotlight: Milwaukee Academy of Science
As one of Milwaukee’s highest performing schools, enrollment at Milwaukee Academy of Science has reached an all-time high. Recent applications have more than doubled, and the school recently announced a capital campaign for a building expansion that will add seats for an additional 250 students by 2024. Northwestern Mutual is contributing $500,000 over a three-year commitment towards this effort to support an expansion of four high school classrooms, four middle school classrooms, three multi-purpose science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) labs, interactive and modernized technology and increased computer bandwidth capacity. The expansion will also improve the school’s athletic facilities by adding a second 6,700-square-foot gymnasium.
Milwaukee Academy of Science is an independent K-12 charter school with a STEM-focused curriculum that serves more than 1,350 students and provides transportation for students in 25 zip codes across Milwaukee. Of the schools’ students, 99% are African American and 96% qualify as economically disadvantaged. Since 2015,100% of Milwaukee Academy of Science seniors have graduated and been accepted to college, with many gaining acceptance to top-tier universities on fully funded academic and athletic scholarships.
“Northwestern Mutual has gone above and beyond as a partner with this gift. We are grateful for Northwestern Mutual’s recent support and leadership in this important area of education,” said Anthony McHenry, CEO of Milwaukee Academy of Science. “This gift will have an impact on 250 additional students at Milwaukee Academy of Science each year and our city overall in the years to come.”
Spotlight: Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC)
Through the support of Northwestern Mutual, as many as 375 local students will be enrolled at MATC – either post-high school or through dual enrollment – by next year. Creating an opportunity to continue to provide wrap-around support to the students in its targeted pathways after high school graduation and into college, the company has committed a four-year, nearly $700,000 grant to MATC, a complement to its established higher education partnership with All-In Milwaukee. The grant will support:
- Dedicated advising: All students in the targeted pathways that matriculate to MATC will be assigned a dedicated academic advisor who will provide ongoing, high-touch academic and career advisement.
- Scholarship funding: Funds will support the MATC Promise, a scholarship program offering free tuition to eligible students for up to 75 credits. Available for students coming directly from high school or for adults who started but never completed college, the MATC Promise can support both students and parents/guardians from the company’s pathway schools, resulting in a multigenerational impact on families.
- Marketing for IT Careers: A targeted marketing campaign will help to drive greater enrollment to MATC’s information technology (IT) programs, thereby diversifying the workforce pipeline in Milwaukee.
“Strong advising and financial support are proven ways to keep students on track for success. We are grateful for Northwestern Mutual’s strategic commitment in helping MATC to transform the lives of more students and strengthen our shared community,” said Dr. Vicki J. Martin, president of MATC. “As an institution where the majority of students are students of color, we are equally proud to have partners in our work to build and sustain the diverse talent pipeline for the success of the region’s economy. Through innovation and partnerships like this, MATC can best meet employer and industry needs now and for the future.”
Other grants will support almost 40 Milwaukee-based schools and nonprofits, spanning from early childhood education to post-secondary completion. View the company’s full list of education partners here.
Beyond disparities in education, Northwestern Mutual is committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, while also fighting racism and discrimination in all forms. The company has a dedicated task force, Sustained Action for Racial Equity, led by Chairman, President and CEO John Schlifske, which takes a holistic look at actions that will have the greatest impact to drive sustainable change. Locally, Northwestern Mutual also collaborates with partners to revitalize underserved neighborhoods and support prominent local destinations. Nationally, the company is focused on funding research to find better treatments and cures for childhood cancer, while also supporting families currently undergoing treatment and survivors living with the lasting effects.