Gearing Up: Scholarships Help MATC Apprentices Get Right Tools and Equipment

Mark Feldmann,

April 22, 2024

Tools of Trade 2024

More than two dozen Milwaukee Area Technical College students in apprenticeship programs recently received some green to get some gear.

This month, 29 MATC construction and industrial trade apprentices received Tools of the Trade scholarships from the Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit organization that helps people attain educational and career goals.

This year, Ascendium awarded 801 scholarships to construction and industrial apprentices in the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System. 

Each apprentice got $2,000 to purchase specialized equipment needed for apprenticeships, such as hand tools, reinforced and fire-resistant work pants, helmets, heavy-duty gloves, safety goggles, protective jackets and steel-toe boots.

The MATC apprentices who received scholarships in 2024 were:

Electrician: Alezario Aranda, Emma Arndt, Gunnar Bartz, Joshua Brahm, Warren Dillon, Eric Geisler, Saul Gonzalez, Jacob Griffin, Mitch Heinz, Al Hoepfner, Michael Posthuma, Kenny Rutkowski, Jason Sigrist, Adam Smith, Joshua Wedesky

HVAC: Daniel Pierdzioch

Industrial Electrician: Mai Cha

Sheet Metal: Daniel Gonzalez, Evan Hopkins, George Kostopoulos, Adrian Martinez

Steamfitting Construction or Service: Timothy Burrie, Noah Carver, Austin Herbst, Kyle Markham, Jacob Ruffalo, Trevor Rutowski, Logan Schaefer, Anthony Seif

Now in its 11th year, Ascendium’s Tools of the Trade Scholarship program has awarded more than $5 million in scholarships to 3,500 apprentices statewide.

The scholarships help apprentices overcome financial barriers so they can focus on continuing and completing their apprenticeships and secure in-demand jobs.

“The Tools of the Trade scholarships have been particularly beneficial to those just starting their apprenticeship,” said David Stuart, MATC’s director of apprenticeships and special projects. “That’s a critical time when many students need help the most to stay competitive in their particular area of study.” 

MATC offers 15 construction and industrial apprenticeship programs that provide learners with on-the-job experience along with classroom instruction. 

“The apprenticeship model is an integral part of educating Wisconsin’s workforce and meeting the needs of employers. Apprentices begin earning immediately, are paid wages during classroom instruction, avoid college debt, and have an on-ramp to lifelong learning,” said Morna Foy, president of WTCS. “I am grateful to Ascendium for their Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program which helps so many students with necessary expenses as they go through their apprenticeship.”

Wisconsin has a long tradition of apprenticeship training. The state passed the nation’s first apprenticeship law in 1911, which regulated apprenticeship programs and established the state’s vocational school system, now WTCS. Wisconsin’s apprenticeship law remains one of the most robust in the United States.

Momentum around workforce training programs like apprenticeships continues to grow: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared 2024 the “Year of the Worker” in his January State of the State address.

“Like Gov. Evers, we understand the value of apprenticeships to both learners and employers. Apprentices get to ‘earn while they learn,’ building a skill set that is required for an in-demand job, and employers get the benefit of recruiting, developing, and training their future workforce,” said Richard D. George, chairman, president and chief executive officer at Ascendium. “We’re pleased to provide a scholarship that helps apprentices reach their education and career goals while also helping employers fill a workforce need.”

Learn about MATC’s apprenticeship programs

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 30,000 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 Commission.

About Wisconsin Technical College System: The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) offers more than 500 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas, short-term technical diplomas and certificates, and classroom-related education for many Wisconsin apprenticeships. WTCS is the major provider of customized instruction and technical assistance for Wisconsin employers. With nearly 280,000 people enrolling in a technical college each year, it is the largest higher education system in the state. 

About Ascendium: Ascendium Education Group is committed to making education and training beyond high school a reality for more people. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we fund initiatives across the U.S. that help learners from low-income backgrounds achieve upward mobility; provide student and employee success solutions to colleges and businesses; invest in education-focused innovations to improve learner outcomes; and provide information, tools, and counseling to help millions of borrowers successfully repay their federal student loans. While we have many roles, we have one goal — elevating opportunity by creating a world where everyone can rise to their highest potential.