Over 155 students have graduated ready to enter the workforce with MATC Foundation support

In less than one year in existence, the Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program has awarded full-ride scholarships to over 370 students, and over 150 of those students have graduated ready to start their careers.

The scholarship was announced in August 2022 by the MATC Foundation, the college’s philanthropic partner in supporting student success since 1979. The scholarship’s primary purpose is providing financial support for students pursuing certain short-term technical diplomas and certificates so ­they can quickly – in 18 months or less – enter the workforce and achieve meaningful employment in a wide range of occupations, including manufacturing, information technology and healthcare. Upon entering the program, 82% of Checota scholars reported current incomes below $27,000. Checota scholars stand to earn 80% more in wages within six months after graduation than they earned before entering MATC, based on the average earnings of MATC graduates in scholarship eligible programs.

The MATC Foundation awarded 372 Checota full-ride scholarships to MATC students during the 2022-23 academic year. The average scholarship amount per semester, per student was $3,000. The program has already resulted in 158 graduates from scholarship eligible programs, which include 90 technical diploma and certificate programs.

Checota students also are outperforming their peers. For scholars attending in Spring 2023, the average GPA was 2.94, as compared to a 2.36 GPA of all students in short-term technical diploma programs. Checota scholars had an overall success rate of 85% (determined by reenrolling or graduating) as compared to the average success rate of 69% of their peer group. About 85% of Checota scholars identify as people of color, and the average age is 28.

MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D., said, “The positive impact of the Checota Scholarship Program on the lives of MATC students far exceeds the impact we anticipated.  We are grateful to Ellen and Joe Checota for their very generous support.”

In August 2022, business and community leaders Ellen and Joe Checota announced they were pledging $5 million to the MATC Foundation for full-ride scholarships covering the costs of tuition, books, equipment, transportation, food, childcare and more.

The $5 million gift from Ellen and Joe Checota is contingent on gaining matching gifts from other donors. For every dollar contributed, the Checota’s will provide a two-for-one match. Each time other donors collectively reach $500,000, Ellen and Joe Checota will disperse $1 million to MATC. When fully funded by the $2.5 million of matching gifts from other donors, the resulting $7.5 million will become the largest charitable contribution gift in the 110-year history of MATC.

“Ellen and I established our scholarship program to provide financial support to our fellow Milwaukee citizens who need a leg up to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” said Joe Checota.  During the first 10 months of the Checota MATC Scholarship Program, $4.62 million has been secured toward the $7.5 million goal. About 163 donors contributed a total of $1.6 million of 50 percent matching gifts to MATC. Gifts range in size from $20 to $500,000. Just under $900,000 remains to be raised to unlock the full $7.5 million contribution.

The MATC Foundation, which recently celebrated its 44th year since incorporation, administers the distribution of Checota scholarships, which are last dollar funds, meaning all state, federal and other available financial support is applied to a student’s financial aid award before the funds of the Checota MATC Scholarship Program are utilized.

The first matching gift of $500,000 came from attorneys Julianna Ebert and Frank Daily. Julianna Ebert.