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All-In Milwaukee aims to help low-income students complete college

A new program launched Tuesday is seeking donors to help more Milwaukee students earn post-secondary degrees. All-In Milwaukee aims to help high-potential, low-income students complete their college programs by providing financial aid and advising support. The program is an expansion of Minneapolis-based Wallin Education Partners and has already received a $250,000 commitment from leaders at financial services firm Baird.

Participants receive services to help them navigate the financial, academic and social aspects of college, according to a news release from the organization.

“Ultimately, our goal is to help these scholars achieve a college degree and matriculate into the Milwaukee workforce,” All-In Milwaukee executive director Allison Wagner said in the release. During a Tuesday luncheon at Baird's office at the U.S. Bank Center on Wisconsin Avenue, program leaders announced the initiative and asked for interested parties to consider providing financial support. Wagner said All-In Milwaukee is seeking contributions both toward an annual fund and in the form of $6,250 commitments annually for four years to support participating students.

Donors who sponsor students establish a mentoring relationship, while also holding the student accountable.

Darren Jackson, who most recently served as the chief executive officer of Advance Auto Parts, is a founding board member of All-In Milwaukee. He said his family's foundation is committing $1 million to the organization to help it get started. He challenged the community to match the contribution.

"We believe in these high potential, working-class kids,” Jackson said. “I was one, raised by a mailman and a mom that just cared. The obstacles are higher, and we see the need in Milwaukee. We think we can make a great impact.”

The Baird Foundation, Purcell family (Paul Purcell is the chairman of Baird), and Stanek family (Mary Ellen Stanek is Baird’s managing director) also said Tuesday that they would pledge $250,000 for the first 25 percent match on the Jackson donation.

The organization is looking for 30 individual, foundation and corporate donor partners to serve 30 to 40 participants by next fall. Eventually, the program aims to serve 50 students at a time — a total of 200 by 2023.

Program partners include Boys & Girls Club, Carmen High Schools of Science and Technology, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School of Milwaukee, College Possible, MKE Fellows and the United Community Center, according to the release.

Higher education institutions like Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alverno College and Carroll University also committed to working with All-In Milwaukee on providing additional services and “maximal” financial aid packages to participants.

The program plans to begin the application process for students in November. All-In Milwaukee aims to finalize donor pledge agreements and slots for program partners in January.


All-In Milwaukee’s founding board members:

  • Ricardo Diaz, the executive director of the United Community Center

  • Willie Hines, the associate director of the Housing Authority of Milwaukee

  • Patricia Hoben, the co-founder, chief executive officer and head of schools at Carmen Schools of Science and Technology

  • Tom Holman, the founder and director of the Morning Foundation

  • Darren Jackson, most recently the chief executive officer of Advance Auto Parts Inc.

  • Mary Ellen Stanek, the managing director and director of asset management at Baird, and chief investment officer of Baird Advisors

  • Allison Wagner, the founding executive director of All-in Milwaukee

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