By Angela McManaman
UWM, Milwaukee Public Schools and Milwaukee Area Technical College officially launched their joint education initiative, M³ (pronounced M-cubed), on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Elected officials, educators, business and community leaders from across southeastern Wisconsin attended the event to learn more about the M3 initiative to increase the retention, graduation, and career success of Milwaukee area students.
“With these three institutions working together, M³ is building an education pipeline focused on increasing student and community success, which will address the workforce needs of our region’s employers,” UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said.
The M³ concept was born in winter 2015, when education executives from MPS, MATC and UWM joined a commission to support Milwaukee Public Schools Lynde & Harry Bradley Technology & Trade School. Their blueprint to strengthen classroom success and boost career readiness for Milwaukee youth marshalled the resources of MPS, MATC and UWM to help students progress from high school to college to the workforce more efficiently. The executives still serve on the Bradley Tech Commission, but established M³ to improve educational outcomes for students from K3 to college throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
“M³ is a game changer for our students, families and the community,” said Darienne Driver, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. “Working together, we can change what secondary and post-secondary education looks like in our community, providing an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on our neighborhoods and our neighbors.”
The work of M³ is divided across five major goal groups, staffed by more than 100 employees of MPS, MATC and UWM. The leads of each goal group discussed their priorities for 2017 and shared some early results of their work at the launch event:
• About 40 percent of MPS seniors completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during the 2015-16 school year. High school seniors must complete the form to qualify for financial aid to college. So far this school year, about 58 percent of MPS seniors have completed the FAFSA, with support from M³ partner Milwaukee Succeeds.
• Thirteen MPS high schools launched the M³ Parent Institute for parents and guardians of freshman and sophomore students, with the goal of educating parents to help prepare their children for high-school and post-secondary success. One hundred parents have completed the six-week program, which will be in place in all 26 district high schools by year-end.
• One hundred English, math and science teachers and professors from the three institutions came together for a first-ever joint professional development workshop to discuss aligning their curricula. A larger professional development workshop is planned for March 3 to engage more teachers, professors and schools in Milwaukee.
• With support from Milwaukee Succeeds, the M³ Summer Math Prep Program enrolled 54 MPS Class of ’16 graduates headed to MATC or UWM. More than half of those students tested into a higher college math course at the end of the three-week summer program, reducing their need for remedial math classes. That, in turn, reduces their college costs and time to a degree.
“Leveraging our collective resources will help ensure Milwaukee students are successfully prepared to enter the local workforce or continue their education,” MATC President Vicki Martin said. “Our institutions serve more than 140,000 students annually and working together is paramount. M³ supports our city’s and state’s economic vitality and will have a significant and lasting impact.”
For more information about M³, visit http://uwm.edu/m-cubed/.