MATC and NEWaukee Announce New Gap Year Experience for Students

Program to Address Gap Year Popularity, Provide Career Exposure

September 29, 2020

(Milwaukee, WI.) - Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and NEWaukee are excited to announce the Great Lakes Gap Year Experience for the City of Milwaukee. The pilot program, coming in 2021, will target a diverse group of students who are undecided about attending college and provide an alternative educational experience. 

Participating students will be led through a curated program that will include MATC hands-on career exploration, career exposure at local companies, network development with peers and civic engagement around the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion to address the region’s equity gap. Additionally, participating students will have opportunities for scholarships and employment at local companies to ensure accessibility and affordability.  

MATC and NEWaukee are seeking input from interested parents, students, and businesses to help design the program and ensure it meets the needs of the community. If you are interested, virtual design sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, 2020 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Thursday, October 15, 2020 from noon to 1:00 p.m. Register at

In addition to exposure to different career paths, students who complete the program will also come away with MATC credits that they can apply to continue their education and wraparound support from the college. 

“We know many students may be considering other options to a traditional college experience as student debt continues to grow and COVID-19 affects so many aspects of our lives. The Great Lakes Gap Year Experience offers an important option to the college-to-career path,” MATC President Vicki J. Martin said. “We are designing the program so students could earn college credits they can use toward a degree at MATC, a four-year university -- or both, thanks to our transfer agreements. In this experience, participants will be able to examine some of our region’s most pressing issues, while building a clear and confident career launch plan.”  

According to the American Gap Year Association, interest in taking a gap year has more than doubled in the past decade. Research shows the COVID-19 pandemic could further accelerate this trend. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google searches related to taking a gap year are up as much as 60% year-over-year. A recent study by the University of Southern California highlights that COVID-19 may disproportionately impact the ability for students of color to stay enrolled full-time or complete their degree on schedule.

The Great Lakes Gap Year Experience aims to address these trends, creating a new pipeline of diverse talent for the state of Wisconsin, area companies and universities. 

“Nationally, taking a gap year is a luxury often afforded only to individuals from affluent families,” explains Angela Damiani, CEO and co-founder of NEWaukee. “We are working with MATC and the community to design this program in a way that provides access to students of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.”

MATC and NEWaukee are looking for other business and university partners to get involved in the Great Lakes Gap Year Experience. Interested? Contact Jeremy Fojut, Co-Founder and Chief Idea Officer of NEWaukee, at


Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. Nearly 35,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 150 academic programs; and transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 35 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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