MATC, NEWaukee partner to create gap year program

MATC president Vicki Martin (Photo: MATC)

Last updated on September 29th, 2020 at 11:37 am

Milwaukee Area Technical College and NEWaukee are partnering to create a gap-year career exploration program for students in Milwaukee who are undecided about attending college.

The curated program, called the Great Lakes Gap Year Experience, will include MATC hands-on career exploration, career exposure at local companies, network development and civic engagement related to the region’s equity gap. It will also include scholarship and employment opportunities at local companies. Students will have the opportunity to gain MATC credits that they can apply to continue their education.

The program will launch as a pilot in 2021.

Nationwide, students are increasingly considering gap-year options as they weigh the cost of tuition and the possibility of virtual college instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, Google searches related to taking a gap year are ​up as much as 60%​ year-over-year, MATC and NEWaukee noted in their announcement.

“We know many students may be considering other options to a traditional college experience as student debt continues to grow and COVID-19 affects so many aspects of our lives. The Great Lakes Gap Year Experience offers an important option to the college-to-career path,” said Vicki Martin, president of MATC. “We are designing the program so students could earn college credits they can use toward a degree at MATC, a four-year university — or both, thanks to our transfer agreements. In this experience, participants will be able to examine some of our region’s most pressing issues, while building a clear and confident career launch plan.”

A recent study by the ​University of Southern California​ also highlighted that COVID-19 may disproportionately impact the ability for students of color to stay enrolled full-time or complete their degree on schedule.

“Nationally, taking a gap year is a luxury often afforded only to individuals from affluent families,” explains Angela Damiani, CEO and co-founder of NEWaukee. “We are working with MATC and the community to design this program in a way that provides access to students of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.”

The organizations said they are seeking other business and university partners to join the program.

They are also seeking input from interested parents, students and businesses as they design the program. Virtual design sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 15 from 12 to 1 p.m. Registration is available at ​bit.ly/MATCGapYear​.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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