In May 2016, Cardinal Stritch University President James P. Loftus, Ph.D., announced that the University secured more than $2.3 million in philanthropic commitments to fund student scholarships, program support for at-risk first-generation college students, paid student internships, a new faith-based leadership development initiative for high school students, and an arts collaboration with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).




“I regularly say that Cardinal Stritch University is ‘in and of the community,’” said Loftus, noting that 73 percent of Stritch graduates live, work and serve their communities in the State of Wisconsin. “A $1 million gift from the Kelben Foundation along with three grants totaling more than $1.3 million from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Lilly Endowment help extend the reach of this University even deeper in our Greater Milwaukee communities. I am grateful to our charitable partners for this special investment in Stritch which is an investment in the future leadership of southeastern Wisconsin.”




The Kelben Foundation of Mequon, Wisconsin, pledged $1 million, in part, to sustain a comprehensive program of support for low-income students aimed at strengthening their academic performance and year-to-year retention. Stritch successfully launched the LDRS initiative in 2012-13 with charitable support from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Students receive intensive academic coaching, mentoring, and professional advising, and participate in community engagement experiences. Stritch retained 89 percent of students enrolled in the program during each academic year. This retention rate far exceeds national averages for this demographic group. The Kelben Foundation gift helps extend the program beyond the completion of the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation grant.




The Kelben Foundation is also funding need-based student scholarships and unrestricted giving to the Annual Fund through this new commitment.




In addition to the Kelben Foundation gift, the University was awarded a $550,000 two-year grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to advance arts education in Milwaukee. Funds helped the University’s faculty launch an innovative art education initiative to provide professional development strategies in art integration for MPS teachers. The program addresses a critical need in MPS where a shortage of licensed art education specialists has forced other teachers to instruct beyond their expertise level. The Art Integration Teach, Learn Hub (AITL HUB) is addressing these challenges by creating a community of practice including Stritch art education and general pre-service education students, selected schools and classrooms within MPS, and an expanded partnership with Milwaukee's nationally-recognized non-profit arts organization, Arts@Large. New art-integrated course offerings are on track to be offered in 2016 and plans are underway for the second AITL HUB Art Integration Summer Institute at Stritch.




In addition, the University was awarded a $409,302 grant by the nationally recognized, Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. to establish a theology institute for high school students in southeast Wisconsin to explore the Catholic faith tradition through the new San Damiano Encounter. Conducted by Stritch’s St. Clare Center for Catholic Life and the Department of Religious Studies, the University is one of just two Wisconsin higher education institutions selected and among only 82 institutions in the nation for the Lilly Endowment grant. Stritch recognizes the need for well-formed leaders who are grounded in their faith tradition and committed to making the world a better place. The one-week residential San Damiano Encounter is open to 24 students who have completed 10th, 11th or 12th grade and will take place at Stritch from June 26–July 1, 2016. The encounter will be deliberately Catholic, Franciscan in orientation and intentionally intercultural, drawing student participants who reflect the diversity of southeastern Wisconsin.




Finally, the University recently was awarded a $366,000 three-year paid-student-internship grant from Madison-based Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. An anticipated 165 new paid internships are funded through the 2017-18 academic year. Students gain meaningful workplace skills; are more likely to earn degrees and use their internship experiences to help secure employment upon graduation. Thanks to $50,000 of matching grant support from the Enroth Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and The Palmer Foundation, Stritch will extend the scope of the program.




“These gifts symbolize the donors’ confidence in Cardinal Stritch University. The University is an accessible organization, serving many first-in-their-family-to-attend-college students and reflects the diversity of the Milwaukee community,” said Robert J. Buckla, Ed.D., vice president of university advancement. “Stritch’s programs at the doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s level attract an enrollment composed of 19 percent African American students and 9 percent Latino students.”




“The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and Lilly Endowment grants, in particular, recognize the talent, creativity and service-focused nature of our faculty who will carry through programs in the Arts and in Religious Studies, respectively,” added Jeffrey D. Senese, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs.