Over 350 MATC Students Have Received Full-Ride Checota Scholarship

More than 155 students have graduated ready to enter the workforce with MATC Foundation support

Darryll Fortune, fortundl@matc.edu

August 17, 2023

Sam Albert

The positive impact of the Checota Scholarship Program on the lives of MATC students far exceeds the impact we anticipated. We are grateful to Ellen and Joe Checota for their very generous support.

Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D. MATC President

MILWAUKEE – In less than one year in existence, the Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program has awarded full-ride scholarships to over 370 students, and over 150 of those students have graduated ready to start their careers.

The scholarship was announced in August 2022 by the MATC Foundation, the college’s philanthropic partner in supporting student success since 1979. The scholarship’s primary purpose is providing financial support for students pursuing certain short-term technical diplomas and certificates so they can quickly – in 18 months or less – enter the workforce and achieve meaningful employment in a wide range of occupations, including manufacturing, information technology and healthcare.

Upon entering the program, 82% of Checota scholars reported current incomes below $27,000. Checota scholars stand to earn 80% more in wages within six months after graduation than they earned before entering MATC, based on the average earnings of MATC graduates in scholarship eligible programs.

The MATC Foundation awarded 372 Checota full-ride scholarships to MATC students during the 2022-23 academic year. The average scholarship amount per semester, per student was $3,000. The program has already resulted in 158 graduates from scholarship eligible programs, which include 90 technical diploma and certificate programs.

Checota students also are outperforming their peers. For scholars attending in Spring 2023, the average GPA was 2.94, as compared to a 2.36 GPA of all students in short-term technical diploma programs. Checota scholars had an overall success rate of 85% (determined by reenrolling or graduating) as compared to the average success rate of 69% of their peer group. About 85% of Checota scholars identify as people of color, and the average age is 28.

MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D., said, “The positive impact of the Checota Scholarship Program on the lives of MATC students far exceeds the impact we anticipated. We are grateful to Ellen and Joe Checota for their very generous support.”

In August 2022, business and community leaders Ellen and Joe Checota announced they were pledging $5 million to the MATC Foundation for full-ride scholarships covering the costs of tuition, books, equipment, transportation, food, childcare and more.

The $5 million gift from Ellen and Joe Checota is contingent on gaining matching gifts from other donors. For every dollar contributed, the Checota’s will provide a two-for-one match. Each time other donors collectively reach $500,000, Ellen and Joe Checota will disperse $1 million to MATC. When fully funded by the $2.5 million of matching gifts from other donors, the resulting $7.5 million will become the largest charitable contribution gift in the 110-year history of MATC.

“Ellen and I established our scholarship program to provide financial support to our fellow Milwaukee citizens who need a leg up to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” said Joe Checota. “We will continue to provide financial support to MATC trade and technical students who are willing to work hard to move from unemployment or underemployment to meaningful employment.”

During the first 10 months of the Checota MATC Scholarship Program, $4.62 million has been secured toward the $7.5 million goal. About 163 donors contributed a total of $1.6 million of 50 percent matching gifts to MATC. Gifts range in size from $20 to $500,000. Just under $900,000 remains to be raised to unlock the full $7.5 million contribution.

“I would never advise anyone on where to give,” said Joe Checota. “But I suggest that you research to ensure the organization is fulfilling its mission. Individuals or companies considering major donations or contributions should prudently assess their options. We encourage other Milwaukee residents to consider small, midsize and large matching gifts to the MATC Foundation.”

The MATC Foundation, which recently celebrated its 44th year since incorporation, administers the distribution of Checota scholarships, which are last dollar funds, meaning all state, federal and other available financial support is applied to a student’s financial aid award before the funds of the Checota MATC Scholarship Program are utilized.

The first matching gift of $500,000 came from attorneys Julianna Ebert and Frank Daily. Julianna Ebert is the immediate past president of the Board of Directors of the MATC Foundation. Bader Philanthropies recently contributed $400,000 – the second largest matching gift to the program. The Zilber Family Foundation contributed $200,000, the Ralph Evinrude Foundation provided a $120,000 gift, and an anonymous donation of $100,000 was received.

The Checota MATC Scholarship Program represents a significant expansion of existing MATC scholarship programs, including Wisconsin’s first Promise program, one of the nation's first Promise for Adults programs and the new Froedtert Memorial Hospital Scholarship that provides MATC Healthcare Pathway students with help in covering costs necessary to complete their degree, including tuition,
required books and supplies, and licensure exams.

The college also offers MATC ReStart, a scholarship that covers up to $1,500 in past debt and a host of other efforts to help students access higher education.

About the MATC Foundation: MATC Foundation Inc., an independent, nonprofit organization incorporated in 1979, is the philanthropic partner of Milwaukee Area Technical College to support students’ success and their role in the region’s economic vitality. The MATC Foundation creates
affordable, accessible paths to family-sustaining employment through large-scale, career-focused scholarships and other vital student financial support programs such as assistance with books and supplies and quick-turnaround emergency grants. By collaborating with civic leaders, employers, community partners, and MATC alumni, the Foundation’s work ultimately promotes economic opportunity for MATC students, their families, and our entire region. Fully 100% of donations are directed to students and initiatives that benefit them.

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 28,000 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 180 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