Partnership provides urban teens with greater access to a college education
In an effort to provide underprivileged youths with access to educational opportunities, leadership training and mentoring, BMO Harris Bank has committed to a five-year, $600,000 partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and Marquette University. This strategic partnership will provide the target population with greater access to higher education along with the necessary support to help students reach college graduation.
“Education is one of the cornerstones in how we help our communities, and this partnership will help ensure that more students get into college,” said Kara Kaiser, Regional President, BMO Harris Bank. “We want to make the dream of a college education a reality for more of our youth because there is so much untapped potential that we need to lead us forward.”
“We are thrilled that more young people in the community will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of earning a college degree,” said Vincent Lyles, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. “We showed BMO Harris Bank what the Clubs and Marquette University have been able to do for young people who want to continue their education and work toward a brighter future, and they saw the value in helping us take our efforts to the next level.”
“Thanks to the support of BMO Harris, Marquette can continue to make a difference in the lives of young men and women from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee,” said Marquette University President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. “This work is at the heart of our mission, and we’re proud of the impact our students go on to have in our world.”
Half of BMO Harris Bank’s donation will help expand Boys & Girls Clubs’ Graduation Plus program, which works with high school students to make college accessible and graduation imminent. Staff members teach students about the college application and enrollment processes, provide ACT preparation workshops, take students on college tours and help with college course selection. In addition, the Clubs provide employment to students who need to save for college, and then it matches their savings to help finance their education. Once in college, Graduation Plus participants have the added benefit of support staff who help them work through any barriers to graduation. The first class of Graduation Plus participants graduated from college earlier this year – some of them from Marquette.
The other half of BMO Harris Bank’s donation will provide increased scholarship opportunities to Boys & Girls Clubs’ Graduation Plus members who go on to attend Marquette. Currently, there are eight Graduation Plus participants enrolled at Marquette, several of them on full scholarship as Marquette University Urban Scholars. Boys & Girls Clubs and Marquette have worked together for years with the common goal of helping members of the urban community, many of them first-generation college students, realize their dream of college graduation. By sharing resources and collaborating on training and mentoring opportunities, the Clubs and Marquette have created a fluid transition for students from high school to college, all the way through graduation.
BMO Harris Bank’s support will also create a career readiness program, which provides internships and job shadowing opportunities at BMO Harris Bank for Graduation Plus students enrolled at Marquette. In addition, BMO Harris Bank will facilitate financial literacy classes for students at Boys & Girls Clubs to help them develop good financial habits. Students who take these classes and participate in the career readiness program will be encouraged to mentor younger students when they enroll at Marquette.