With full-ride scholarship program, MATC can boost and bolster city

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson urges students to take advantage of college’s Ellen and Joe Checota Scholarship program

Mark Feldmann, feldmam1@matc.edu

January 04, 2023

This training can lead to solid careers with great wages. With good jobs, our families are stronger, our neighborhoods become stronger, and our city gets stronger and more connected.

Cavalier Johnson Mayor, City of Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE – Good-paying jobs can make Milwaukee even stronger, says Mayor Cavalier Johnson, and Milwaukee Area Technical College has the perfect program for students to create family-sustaining careers while decreasing college debt.

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, Johnson came to MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus and urged current and prospective students to take advantage of the college’s Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship program, a full-ride award that covers tuition, books, course fees, equipment, supplies, transportation, child care, meal plans and, if needed, housing at MATC’s Westown Green apartments.

First unveiled in August 2022, the Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship helps eligible students pursuing technical diplomas and certificates to earn their credentials and enter the workforce quickly. This spring, the scholarship is open to new students for the first time. 

“This training can lead to solid careers with great wages,” Johnson said. “With good jobs, our families are stronger, our neighborhoods become stronger, and our city gets stronger and more connected.”

Information about the Ellen and Joe Checota Scholarship Program

“The doors of opportunity are open,” Johnson added. “You just have to walk through them.”

“We want as many students as we can get to take advantage of his life-changing scholarship,” said MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D.

See photos from the event

This past fall, 123 current MATC students received the first batch of Checota scholarships, Dr. Martin said. Of that group, 26 graduated in December and are ready to enter the workforce.

One of those graduates was Sonia Gholson, who received a technical diploma in the aesthetician program thanks to a Checota scholarship. 

Gholson plans to own and operate a full-service salon and spa – a place where people can put aside the inconveniences of everyday life and indulge themselves, even if for a few hours.

“We need more places where people can treat themselves,” Gholson said. “I’d like to have a one-stop shop, a place where people can treat themselves for an hour or even for a whole day with facials, manicures, pedicures and massages.”

Gholson used her Checota scholarship to pay tuition, buy some supplies and have a meal plan. She drove to school so she also got reimbursed for her mileage, which covered her fuel costs.

“The scholarship was a complete blessing,” Gholson said. “I have been really surprised how many things it has covered.”

Gholson heard about the Checota scholarship during the summer and applied knowing she would need financial help. 

“I have been trying to go to school and not have a balance at the end,” Gholson said. “But the funds I had really weren’t lining up. I will always try to find a way. I got an email about the Checota, and I saw that the program had way better benefits than other scholarships.”

See media coverage from event:

Wisconsin Public Radio

Telemundo Wisconsin

CBS Channel 58

WTMJ Channel 4

Urban Milwaukee

The scholarship program is driven by a $5 million charitable gift from the Checotas, longtime residents of Milwaukee. Ellen Checota is an artist, and Joe Checota is the chairman and CEO of Landmark Healthcare Facilities LLC, a national developer, owner and manager of outpatient medical buildings.

The $5 million from the Checotas is contingent on gaining matching gifts from other donors. For every dollar contributed, the Checotas provide a two-for-one match. The Checotas’ gift, when combined with $2.5 million in donations that will be matched two-to-one, creates a $7.5 million scholarship fund, the largest ever in the 110-year history of MATC.

“This is a program dear to our hearts,” Joe Checota said on Wednesday at MATC. “We want students to know that if you make the effort, we will continue to support you. We’re trying to change lives one life at a time in Milwaukee.” 

Information about the Ellen and Joe Checota Scholarship Program

About MATC: 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. More than 25,000 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 170 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.