Philanthropist and former Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele recently donated $500,000 to the Milwaukee Area Technical College Foundation to support Milwaukee Area Technical College’s flagship MATC Promise programs, which provide last-dollar free-tuition scholarships for qualified students.

An anonymous alumnus also donated $125,000 from the JPG Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The MATC Promise is a public-private partnership with donors filling the gap between what financial aid covers and the cost of tuition.

Abele has been a major supporter of the MATC Promise since its inception, first donating $250,000 to help establish the MATC Promise for High School Graduates. Launched in 2015, MATC’s direct-from-high school Promise program was the first Promise program in Wisconsin.

In 2017, Abele donated an additional $500,000 to support the development of the MATC Promise for Adults, which began enrolling students in 2018. The financial aid supported his belief that access to higher education could break the cycle of poverty.

“Making higher education available to people with lower incomes is an important tool to improve equity in our society,” said Abele. “Promise programs have shown that many people do not consider college or have given up on the thought of attending or returning to college because they do not believe they can afford it. The MATC Promise allows these students to follow their dreams and graduate with degrees that will lead to jobs with family-sustaining wages.”

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.

“We have seen the lack of equity in society play out with tragic consequences this year. The MATC Promise is a transformational program to help overcome some of that disparity because it serves a very diverse pool of students,” added Abele. “I urge others in the community to step up and donate to the MATC Promise program as well.”

Nearly 35,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC is known for offering affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in southeastern Wisconsin.

“We are very grateful for these gifts to help Milwaukee Area Technical College continue its commitment to breaking down financial barriers and ensuring that students are able to access a quality, in-demand education,” said Vicki J. Martin, MATC President. “The MATC Promise also is one of the ways the college is able to fulfill its strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion because it helps so many students of color.”

The priority deadline to apply for both MATC Promise programs is December 4, with a final deadline of January 8, 2021 for the MATC Promise for Adults, and a final deadline of June 30, 2021 for the MATC Promise for New High School Graduates.

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Lee Matz