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Greater Milwaukee Foundation Making $3 Million Investment in Dr. Fuller Education Vision

July 29, 2022
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Greater Milwaukee Foundation Making $3 Million Investment in Dr. Fuller Education Vision

Business, entrepreneurial community rally behind new facility for high-performing Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy

MILWAUKEE – July 2022 – The Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy (HFCA) is pleased to announce it is receiving a $3 million investment from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, which, in alignment with several of the city’s top corporations and entrepreneurial philanthropists, will support a new, state-of-the-art facility in the Bronzeville area for the Black founded and led public charter high school with a 10-year track record of 100% college acceptance for graduating seniors.

The tuition-free HFCA earlier this week announced the public launch of its Commit to the Future campaign to build a new $20 million, 80,000-squarefoot high school at Vel R. Phillips and Garfield Avenues. The site is across from America’s Black Holocaust Museum and beside the catalytic ThriveOn King Development – part of the ThriveOn Collaboration co-founded by Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), the Medical College of Wisconsin and Royal Capital with a vision for a Milwaukee that is equitable, healthy, and thriving for all.

The Foundation’s investment supports HFCA in several ways, consisting of a $2 million impact investment bridge loan providing immediate access to capital for construction, as well as a $600,000 capital grant and $400,000 in scholarship support for HFCA graduates.

“Our $3 million total investment represents a generational commitment we are making together with the Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy to support educational outcomes for students of color and help turn the tide on systemic inequities,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Foundation. “This historic opportunity to support a thriving, African American-led institution aligns strongly with the Foundation’s north star of racial equity and inclusion, and our vision of a Milwaukee for all.”

GMF joins Northwestern Mutual, WE Energies, RW Baird, Herb Kohl Philanthropies, Bader Philanthropies, Ralph Evinrude Foundation and philanthropist-entrepreneurs Ted and Mary Kellner, among others, in financially backing the expansion of a public charter school known for its focus on developing scholars who are college, career and life ready. Every student has an adult mentor at school and a personalized learning plan.

HFCA’s $25 million Commit to the Future campaign, which already has raised $16 million, includes $5 million toward a proposed new feeder middle school. HFCA hopes to renovate the existing high school building at 4030 N. 29th St. for a middle school that would enroll approximately 325 students. The new high school is expected to be completed by Fall 2023 and will help HFCA grow its enrollment from 325 students to a more financially sustainable 500 students.

The capital campaign represents the pinnacle of longtime education reformer Howard Fuller’s legacy in Milwaukee, and progress that has been made since 2004, when the former Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent and a group of Black clergymen founded CEO Leadership Academy (today known as Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy), based on the belief all children can be educated in a loving, caring environment that isn’t “just” a school.

“The Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s gift is an investment in the education of Black children in Milwaukee, and it will go a long way towards helping us close a generational gap in performance,” said Fuller, also a distinguished professor emeritus of education at Marquette University “I’ve dedicated my life’s work to ensuring Black students have the choice to go to college and have the education they need to thrive in life. I have the utmost appreciation and respect for the individuals and businesses in Milwaukee who support this mission and vision,” Fuller added.

HFCA’s new neighborhood is being redeveloped to recapture its early 20th-century glory as a Black business and cultural hub. The location also will position HFCA near Milwaukee Area Technical College, and downtown business partners for STEM apprenticeships.

Expanding STEM education, including business, technology, and health care career preparation, is a strategic part of the vision, along with the proposed feeder middle school.

“A new middle school would enable HCFA staff to reach students earlier and remediate proficiency deficits in the sixth grade instead of the ninth grade,” said HFCA Principal Judith Parker. “The goal is for students to be better prepared for higher level courses and dual enrollment in college.”

The Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy is open to all students in the city and supports those with academic and special needs. The student body is predominantly Black, and 96% of its students are considered economically disadvantaged. HFCA’s mission is to nurture scholars capable of transforming their world by sending them to and through college. Milwaukee has one of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between Black and white students and HFCA is focused on changing that reality.

The new high school with state-of-the-art library, classrooms, study areas, cafeteria and conference space also will add a gymnasium and auditorium for scholars to participate in athletics, fine arts, and other activities their current building cannot accommodate.

“What principal Judith Parker and the rest of the staff at HFCA have accomplished through vision, dedication and determination is powerful,” said Cory Nettles, co-chair of the Commit to the Future capital campaign, and Founder and Managing Director of Generation Growth Capital, Inc. “They are guiding Black scholars to 100% college acceptance, preparing scholars to succeed in college or another career path, and nurturing alumni to be the next generation of HFCA teachers and leaders. But most importantly, they are preparing their students to become socially and economically productive citizens.”

Along with Nettles, other capital campaign co-chairs include Patty Cadorin, retired BMO Harris executive, and Thelma Sias, retired WE Energies executive. Campaign Cabinet members include Mary Ellen Stanek of RW Baird, Tim Sheehy, MMAC, Jonas Prising, CEO of Manpower Group, and Marquette University President Michael Lovell, among others.

Visit to donate or learn more about the Commit to the Future capital campaign.