St. Marcus School goes public with $31 million fundraising campaign

Rendering of the expansion project planned for St. Marcus' Harambee campus.
Rendering of the expansion project planned for St. Marcus' Harambee campus.

Last updated on June 13th, 2022 at 10:12 am

St. Marcus School on Tuesday went public with a $31 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, for which it has already raised $20.1 million.

The “Courage to Commit” campaign quietly launched in 2018 to raise funds for the private, Christian school’s third campus, in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. That campus opened its doors at 110 W. Burleigh in Milwaukee last fall to 150 students, K4-2nd grade. St. Marcus has 600 K4-8th grade students at its main campus at 2215 N. Palmer St., and 350 at its north campus at 2669 N. Richards St.

As part of the campaign’s public unveiling, Milwaukee philanthropists Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg announced a $500,000 increase to their original pledge to match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $2.5 million for the Harambee campus expansion. Their gift has led to commitments of more than $5 million. The couple along with other St. Marcus donors are on track to collectively raise an additional $1 million by July 31, according to a news release.

All gifts and pledges made to the Harambee project through July 31 will be matched until the challenge is fulfilled.

Through the Courage to Commit campaign, St. Marcus expects to serve 600 students at its Harambee campus by 2027, said Henry Tyson, superintendent of St. Marcus School.

“We’re incredibly grateful for our generous donors, both past and present, who have supported St. Marcus School. This is a new chapter for our school community – the scholars, their families, the faculty and staff and the alumni – and we couldn’t be more excited,” Tyson said.

In addition to the Harambee campus campus project, funds from the campaign will go toward “support programming and educational excellence,” which includes covering the $2,500 gap between voucher funding and the actual cost to educate each student.
“Gifts to the endowment fund enhance the long-term sustainability of St. Marcus School, funding student aid, building maintenance for three campuses, operational support and hedges against inflation and economic uncertainty. Overall, the campaign seeks to ensure scholars receive the highest quality, life-changing education they deserve now and into the future,” St. Marcus said in the release.

Former executives of Milwaukee-based sheet music publisher Hal Leonard Corp., Mardak and Vandenberg also support numerous other educational initiatives in the city, including the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. They were recognized last year with BizTimes Media’s Nonprofit Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We believe in the mission of St. Marcus School, and we want be involved in the effort to serve even more children in Milwaukee,” the couple said. “They are the future of our city. Every child we can provide with a solid foundation from which to grow means a brighter future for them and for Milwaukee.”

St. Marcus' Harambee campus. Image from Google.
St. Marcus’ Harambee campus. Image from Google.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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