Burke Foundation invests $1 million in Grace Scholars

Mount Mary Grace Scholars welcomes 30 freshmen, thanks to foundation support

The Grace Scholars program, which assists low-income Milwaukee women throughout their college careers, will welcome 30 freshmen in 2016-17, thanks to the continued support of a local foundation.

The Burke Foundation, founded by the late Dick Burke of Trek Bicycle, cultivates urban leadership within the city of Milwaukee. It recently pledged nearly $1 million for the incoming class of Grace Scholars; the 30 new students will join the 95 Grace Scholars studying here currently.

This program funds 85 percent of a student's tuition for four years of college, and provides dedicated academic and community support.

A strong institutional commitment is crucial to the success of the program, said Karen Friedlen, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, allowing the University to proactively address the risk factors that may lead to students with limited income leaving college before graduation.

"On a national level, cultural barriers, low academic self-confidence, and lack of social support cause a dramatic drop in retention, particularly after the first year of college," Friedlen said. "We have been proud of our ability to retain and graduate Grace Scholars over the past 11 years."

Since the mid-2000s, the Burke Foundation has been the primary sponsor of two Milwaukee-focused programs at Mount Mary, the Grace Scholars and the Caroline Scholars.

Grace Scholars

About the Grace Scholars Program:

  • Targeted toward young, low-income women with leadership potential
  • Must reside in the city of Milwaukee
  • Predominantly first generation, low-income, students of color
  • Limited to 30 incoming students each year
  • 116 students have graduated from the program
  • Scholarship covers 85 percent of tuition over four years
  • An additional residential grant for housing may be provided
  • Provides community-building and academic support:
    • May attend Summer Bridge Program before their freshman year to jump-start college experience
    • Attend an ongoing support class to build relationships, leadership and community
  • Attrition rate among Grace Scholars is lower than for rest of University