MILWAUKEE - A major financial donation to Milwaukee city schools, including public and charter schools, is aimed at leveling the playing field when it comes to education by chipping away at disparities so students with low-income backgrounds can compete with suburban counterparts.
Many kids in Milwaukee's inner-city are in need of resources and guidance, something Laura Gutierrez says is key for her students at United Community Center.
"Only 9% of kiddos in Milwaukee go on to receive a college degree, so for us, we have to change that," she said.
"There are a lot of hurdles our student have to face," said Jennifer Lopez with Carmen School of Science and Technology. "90% of our students are from low-income backgrounds."
To help boost students' success and drive sustainable change, Northwestern Mutual is donating $2.5 million to schools, nonprofits and programming in the city of Milwaukee.
The investment is aimed at closing the achievement gap, while also creating paths to long-term educational success and career opportunities.
"They are actually providing a pathway for accessible and high, rigorous education, but going beyond that -- introducing them to the workforce," said Gutierrez.
The company is partnering with 21 public and charter schools for a strategy that will follow students' educational journeys from kindergarten to employment.
"Really ensuring we able to create this incredible and diverse pipeline, which is what we need in our city," said Lopez. "This has provided us an opportunity with our students with our internship and apprenticeships, and with Girls Who Code."
About $100,000 of the investment also went to addressing the digital divide with Milwaukee Public Schools by providing wireless mobile hotspots with data subscriptions and home internet services to over 5,000 students.