Baird awards education nonprofit grants in honor of late chairman Paul Purcell

In 2019, Paul Purcell received the Brenton H. Rupple Citizenship Award, Baird’s highest community service honor.
In 2019, Paul Purcell received the Brenton H. Rupple Citizenship Award, Baird’s highest community service honor.

Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. has awarded two local education nonprofits with grants that honor the legacy of its late chairman Paul Purcell.

The financial services company recently announced at its annual meeting that seven nonprofits in Milwaukee, the greater Chicago area, Nashville and Louisville were the inaugural recipients of the Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grants totaling $700,000.

Purcell died in February 2020. At the time, he was chairman of Baird. He previously was also president and CEO of the company.

Purcell served on the boards of several educational organizations, and, when determining whether the organizations were committed to providing quality education, he was known to often ask the question: “Do the kids win?”

“Paul gave of himself tirelessly to so many educational causes and firmly believed we have an obligation to ensure everyone, regardless of where they live or their circumstances, has access to a quality education,” said Steve Booth, Baird chairman, president and CEO.

The local grant recipients include Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee and Teach For America – Milwaukee. Purcell was a founding member of the Cristo Rey board of directors from 1996-2007 and served as chairman of the board. He also served as co-chair of the board of Teach for America in Milwaukee.

The Cristo Rey grant will support the development of an innovation center that will include a design lab, 3D printing and fabrication space, robotics space and a media/podcasting production area.

Teach for America plans to recruit, train and support up to 10 corps members for the 2021-’22 school year with its grant.

Other grant recipients include the Martha O’Bryan Center in Nashville; Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep in Waukegan, Illinois; Teach for America – Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana; Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching in Chicago; and Nativity Academy at St. Boniface in Louisville.

“We all stand on Paul’s shoulders. He was a giant force for improving the opportunities of underserved, low-income students,” said Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. “Thousands of students benefited from his tenacious push to improve how education is delivered, both here in Milwaukee and beyond. Paul’s relentless focus and his north star guiding his educational volunteer work was his commitment to doing what it takes to ensure ‘kids win!’”

Nominations for the grants are sought from Baird associates who play a volunteer leadership role in nonprofit educational organizations.

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