Milwaukee College Completion Charity To Expand

Mar 4, 2020

A relatively new Milwaukee college completion charity working to bolster the number of low-income students of color earning college degrees will more than double the number of young people it serves this year.

All-In Milwaukee provides for its students what many wealthy and middle-class collegegoers take for granted: financial support, help navigating unfamiliar systems, and connections to secure job placement after graduation.

READ: New Book Details How Higher Ed Is Failing Low-Income & First-Generation Students

The program’s goal is to chip away at some of the grim higher education statistics that plague Milwaukee. Just 13% of black residents and 11% of Latino residents have bachelors’ degrees, compared to about 40% of white Milwaukeeans. Research shows that a college degree greatly increases a person’s ability to improve their economic circumstances.

“I saw after graduation, a lot of my friends didn’t go to college,” said Tania Hernandez-Galvin, one of the students in the first class of All-In Milwaukee scholars. “That’s when I was like, ‘Oh, this is very real.’ I feel like a lot of them do want to [go to college,] but they get discouraged because they just hear certain things or they feel like no one believes in them or they’re not worth anyone’s time.”

Hernandez-Galvin goes to Alverno College, along with two other All-In Milwaukee scholarship recipients, Maisheng Thor and Fatima Navarro. The students say the tuition scholarships provided by All-In Milwaukee have given them peace of mind. But Navarro says the most helpful part of the program is the counseling provided by mentors and program director Tiffany Tardy.

“When I first started, I didn’t feel like I belonged,” Navarro said. “It was just a different switch from high school to college … I would text Tiffany almost every night and she would help me to understand how I was feeling, and she provided feedback that helped me feel more like I belonged.”

READ: Low-Income Students Often Face Additional Hurdles When Applying For College Financial Aid

All-In Milwaukee’s first class of 40 scholarship recipients are finishing up freshman year at partner schools, like Alverno, UW-Madison, UWM, and Marquette. If they meet certain academic standards, the students will continue to receive All-In Milwaukee’s services through graduation.

A $1 million gift from philanthropists Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg to All-In Milwaukee and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee will assist the program in supporting an additional 65 low-income college students in the upcoming school year.

But student Tania Hernandez-Galvin says programs like All-In Milwaukee can't reach everyone.

"Higher education has to step up," she said. "It's not only external scholarships that should be providing support. I feel like the high schools and colleges should be educating students about the opportunities they have, because there are a lot, they're just very hidden."

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