BMO Harris Bank donates $600K to help kids get to college

MILWAUKEE -- For some students in Milwaukee's central city, getting a college education, or paying for one, may be out of reach. However, BMO Harris Bank is helping make that dream possible -- making sure a unique pipeline from the Boys and Girls Club to Marquette University stays strong.

“It gives me great pleasure to stand up here today to be able to reconnect with my Alma Mater -- to be able to pave the way for other future graduates,” Kara Kaiser, Regional President of BMO Harris Bank said. 

Kaiser on Tuesday, November 13th revealed a $600,000 investment to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and Marquette University for the next five years.

“This partnership will help us ensure that more students go to college,” Kaiser said.

The goal is to provide underprivileged teens with an opportunity for a higher education -- something Marquette freshman Marina Murphy only dreamed of until the Boys & Girls Club led her down the right path.

“Preparing me for going to college, preparing me for life, preparing me for making me a better person.  They've done so much for me.  I owe my life to them,” Murphy said.

“A lot of these kids truly are first generation kids whose parents didn't talk about college at Thanksgiving,”  Boys & Girls Club President Vincent Lyles said.

Under the new partnership with BMO Harris, more students like Murphy will have access to higher education.

Half the donation will be used to expand the Boys & Girls Clubs' Graduation Plus program, providing mentors and college prep workshops.  The other half would boost scholarships for those members who go on to attend Marquette.

“That's what this is about -- creating access for these kids and access for all of us,” Lyles said.

Lyles says the money will open doors to a better future for the nearly 200 club members like Murphy.  They are following a similar track to college, and this new partnership, will help make that dream a reality.

“A lot of people I know have big dreams, but no help.  No mentors, no money.  So it makes a big difference,” Murphy said.

Out of the nearly 200 Boys & Girls Club members in the Graduation Plus program, 145 of them are currently in college.  Eight of them are at Marquette.  The goal is to get more of them into the downtown campus in the next five years.