Schools That Can Milwaukee (STCM), an education-minded nonprofit organization that aims to close Milwaukee’s achievement gap, is turning to the community to raise $400,000 by Friday as part of a week-long $1 million challenge.
The challenge was unexpectedly launched last Friday by STCM board member Gus Ramirez, who is also the executive chairman of Waukesha-based HUSCO International. Ramirez committed to personally match up to $1 million donated to the organization by Friday, May 3.
He announced the surprise challenge at the end of a breakfast reception hosted by STCM in conjunction with the national Schools That Can movement. Ramirez constructed the challenge both in support of STCM’s goals and in honor of his new granddaughter, said Kole Knueppel, STCM co-founder and managing director of school partnerships.
“We were just overwhelmed with his enthusiasm for Schools That Can Milwaukee and his support for our organization,” Knueppel said. “We were absolutely thrilled and overwhelmed that he would step up and (give) that kind of gift.”
About 400 people attended last Friday’s breakfast event, which informed supporters and community partners of the organization about its progress in positively impacting the quality of Milwaukee schools. Donations contributed to the challenge started to pour in Friday with more than $150,000 raised the first day alone, many from event attendees.
As of today, donations have exceeded $600,000, thanks in large part to a $100,000 gift made by JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Wednesday.
“It’s huge in terms of our ability to do the work with the schools and the kids,” Knueppel said. “Our goal is to close the achievement gap in Milwaukee, and the first step is to get to 20,000 students in high performing schools by 2020.”
The grant will broaden the organization’s impact across the education scene in Milwaukee, Knueppel said.
STCM launched in July 2010. The organization works with high performing schools in the city to help them expand and replicate. It also coaches high potential schools and recruits school leaders from across the country to bring new schools to the area.
The organization works with the Milwaukee Public School District as well as charter schools and schools within School Choice.
The nonprofit hopes to get as close to the $1 million benchmark as possible by the end of the day on Friday. Interested donors can reach out to Allison Wagner, STCM director of growth, at 414-405-3013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.