The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee has announced a $5 million gift from trustee Keith Mardak and his wife, Mary Vandenberg, to establish an extended learning day program in partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools.
The gift — the largest in recent BGCGM history — will establish the MarVan Scholars program, a five-year effort to create a seamless learning day for MPS students, increase student achievement through the use of online-based tools, and expand collaboration between day-school and afterschool staff. The program will be rolled out at four MPS pilot schools in the first year and grow to thirty-three by 2020. The pilot schools include Allen-Field Elementary School; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School; Engleburg Elementary School; and Clarke Street School.
The program will be led by Wyant Jansen, BGCGM's first chief academic officer, and the gift will also support the hiring of an education data manager and thirty-three academic coaches. To ensure the success of the program, BGCGM will increase the training and planning hours allotted to sixty-six academic and educational coordinators. Starting in the fall, scholarships will be offered to K-8 students who are members of BGCGM at four MPS-based community learning centers.
Mardak — who has served on BGCGM's board of trustees for twenty years — and Vandenberg have provided funding for the development of the Mardak Center for Administration and Training, the Daniels Mardak Boys & Girls Club, and the Vandenberg Center for the Arts. In addition, they provide annual support for BGCGM's operations, a scholarship for club members who attend Pius XI High School, and opportunities that expose BGCGM members to programming at First Stage Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and Junior Achievement.
"We are extremely grateful for the support Keith and Mary have given, and continue to give, to our club’s members," said BGCGM president and CEO Vincent Lyles. "Our goal with this new effort is to work collaboratively with schools to increase students’ time on task. Together, we will help kids reach their goals on a path to a bright future."