Behind the gift: Joe and Ellen Checota

Ellen and Joe Checota
Ellen and Joe Checota

Last updated on December 2nd, 2022 at 09:37 am

Joe Checota, chairman and chief executive officer of Landmark Healthcare Facilities LLC, and his wife, Ellen, recently committed $5 million to Milwaukee Area Technical College. The newly created Ellen & Joe Checota MATC Scholarship funds full-ride scholarships for students in short-term trade and technical programs.

The Checotas’ gift, when combined with $2.5 million in donations that will be matched two-to-one, represents the largest-ever scholarship investment in the history of MATC. 

Previously, the couple has made major contributions to Goodwill Industries, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and several health care organizations. 

Their philanthropy has been guided by three major principles: help the city they have called home for half a century, give where there is the greatest need, and give sooner rather than later. Here, Joe Checota explains more about their philosophy of giving. 

Why they give

“I’d never thought I’d experience this much satisfaction and pleasure out of making a gift. Ellen and I have wanted to do something like this for more than 25 years. In December 2021, we sold some property and that capital event put us in the fortunate position where we can make this happen.

“We made the decision that we would prefer to give back to the city where we lived and raised and educated our two sons, and to do that while we were still alive.” 

On supporting technical education

“We have always wanted to find a way to help trade and technical students, the people who want to dig in and work and make a better life for themselves and their families but might need a leg up. My grandmother always told me she would help those who help themselves, and I never forgot that. This is designed for serious-minded students who want to help themselves. 

“We recognize that one real problem a large segment of Milwaukee’s population faces is poverty. To make Milwaukee work better, the segment living near poverty needs to secure meaningful employment to support themselves and their families – and they need it quickly.” 


“We have long recognized that MATC is the gold standard for first-rate trade and technical education in greater Milwaukee. We now have the privilege and the honor of watching people go from unemployment to employment and improve their lives in a substantial way. And that is the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that only giving can give you.” 

Wisdom on giving

“Giving money causes you to think carefully. It makes you make sure your money is being used where it will have the greatest possible effect.”

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