Milwaukee Rescue Mission completes $13 million campaign for school expansion

Project added 49,000 square feet to campus in Lindsay Heights neighborhood

The fab lab at Milwaukee Rescue Mission Cross Trainers

Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 11:24 am

Milwaukee Rescue Mission leaders celebrated on Wednesday the completion of a $13 million capital campaign to support the renovation and expansion of the organization’s school campus in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood.

Earlier this year, MRM completed the project at its Cross Trainers Academy’s North Campus, adding enrollment capacity to the voucher school at 1530 W. Center St.

In 2015, the organization acquired the property at the corner of 15th and Center Street — which included two buildings of a former charter school, the Academy of Learning and Leadership — to develop the Cross Trainers Academy campus. At the time, the school operated out of MRM’s main campus at 830 N. 19th St. and had about 150 students in grades K4-8. Leaders that year decided to add 9-12 grades and build out a vocational-based high school program.

The $19 million North Campus project included connecting the two buildings, adding a gym, building a fabrication lab, among other renovations. In total, the project added about 48,510 square feet to the campus. Catalyst Construction was the project’s general contractor and Plunkett Raysich Architects was the architect.

The campus now has a capacity to serve about 500 students. This year, enrollment is at 350.

“The building is almost a metaphor,” said Patrick Vanderburgh, president of MRM. “We’re seeing this vision built out to serve these students. I think we have a really great model.”

MRM launched a capital campaign to support the project in 2016. It was co-chaired by Michael Grebe, former president and chief executive officer of the Bradley Foundation, and Patty Grebe; and Warren Pierson, managing director and deputy chief investment officer for Baird Advisors, and Ann Pierson.

The project received about $4 million through federal New Markets Tax Credits.

Cross Trainers Academy, which is part of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, is aimed at providing an option to Milwaukee families who might not otherwise be able to access private Christian education, Vanderburgh said.

Under the school’s model, students complete their high school requirements in three years and spend their fourth year taking courses through Milwaukee Area Technical College. The model is aimed at giving students a jump start on their post-secondary careers.

Vanderburgh said the organization’s leaders recognize the challenges of educating students in one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. But, he said, it aligns with MRM’s mission.

Since 1983, MRM has provided emergency shelter and long-term care to homeless men, women and children at its main campus. The organization launched Cross Trainers Academy in 2006.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, frankly, but we think we have a solid model, we have a solid team, we have a great facility, a good community in terms of parents and students,” Vanderburgh said. “Now, we have to make sure the high school diploma is converted into entry level career-type employment.”

In addition to the school, the North Campus is home to MRM’s Equip community resource department – which provides tutoring, hosts a neighborhood association and offers job resources and basic necessities to neighbors.

“Being in zip code 53206 – there’s a lot of documentation about the challenges in this zip code – this is right where we’d want to be,” Vandenburgh said.

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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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