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Thea Bowman Institute launches in Milwaukee to promote academic enrichment for Black women

Alverno College launched the Thea Bowman Institute for Excellence and Leadership on September 23, a program designed to serve Black women through academic and leadership programming.

The Institute builds on existing Alverno initiatives that bring together students with a like-minded community of advanced leaders and learners. Nine students have been accepted into the Institute, which includes a full-tuition scholarship and a rigorous, robustly crafted leadership development program designed to prepare participants for professional roles in pursuit of social change and service. Ronett Jacobs, M.Ed., has been appointed the Institute’s director.

“Thea Bowman Scholars will play a powerful role in demanding and creating permanent, systemic societal change,” said Joseph Foy, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs at Alverno. “Already they’re inspiring others as they develop mobile apps to help individuals in mental health crisis connect with experts, offer restorative justice training from Harvard to the Milwaukee Police Department, and help provide art education through the Boys & Girls Club and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.”

Using a cohort-based model, the Institute provides students with a dedicated advisor, alumnae mentors, exclusive networking opportunities and guaranteed internship opportunities. Alverno seeks applications from women who have a demonstrated record of academic achievement, who are committed to graduating in four years and who will become change agents in various professional fields in the Milwaukee community. Programming for the Institute, such as speakers, will extend to benefit the entire Alverno community.

Named for a Franciscan, Catholic sister, teacher and scholar educated in Wisconsin who made significant contributions to the church’s ministry to Blacks, the Thea Bowman Institute is consistent with Alverno’s mission to educate a diverse student body that reflects the community.

The Institute resulted from a call to the Alverno community to meet racial injustice with action. Alverno President Andrea Lee, IHM, envisioned a program that would provide access to higher education, experiential leadership and mentoring opportunities for Black women who would go on to be leaders in their career fields and communities.

Alverno is one of Wisconsin’s most diverse and inclusive four-year colleges. Nearly half of Alverno’s students identify as a person of color, with 14 percent of them identifying as Black or African American. Alverno was the first Wisconsin higher education institution designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The Thea Bowman Institute follows the May launch of a scholarship program in partnership with the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee designed to support the education of Hispanic students.

“The time is now, and the place is Alverno, for this Institute to flourish and attract Milwaukee’s best, brightest and most committed Black women seeking to experience the power of an Alverno education,” said Jacobs, an Alverno alumna. “Thea Bowman Scholars are women who know, ‘I was sent here to do something great, and I’m determined to do that.’”

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