In 2014, three major Milwaukee academic institutions were undergoing transitions to new leadership. But out of a state of flux, UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and Milwaukee Public Schools began an alliance aimed at improving outcomes for students.
They created a network called M-cubed, with a mission of better aligning education so that students who start at MPS will have a smoother road leading to MATC, UWM, or both.
Five years into the work of M-cubed, leaders of the effort and the institutions say there have already been some successes. But other parts of the equation are slower to change.
When it comes to the academic collaborations success, M-cubed has continuously connected MPS students to Milwaukee's higher education institutions.
"So many students from MPS become MATC or UW-Milwaukee students. In fact, the number today, and we're delighted to say it's growing, we think is upwards of 43 percent of students who go to college after MPS," UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone says.
However, there is still work to be done in making this effort as effective as possible. One area for improvement is helping students with academic preparedness once they get to MATC and/or UWM.
"If we increase the number of students and their preparedness, that doesn't just change things overnight. As they work through the system ... this is years long in the making. So, we're very confident in the things that we're doing in terms of better academic preparedness, in terms of better advising, better counseling, all the way through summer bridge programs and activities like that, which will absolutely help the retention — which is ultimately what matters," Mone says.