What is M³

M-cubed (M³) is a collaboration between Milwaukee’s three urban public education institutions, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM). M-cubed seeks to ensure student success within these institutions to meet the workforce needs of business and industry in our region and improve the well-being of Wisconsin citizens, their families and communities. In sum, M-cubed is transforming the future of Milwaukee through education.


Why is it needed?

We are alarmed by statistics that show high poverty levels¹ as well as high unemployment² and incarceration rates³ in Milwaukee.

M-cubed’s investment in education is well placed. M-cubed’s K-16 approach is especially needed for children living in homes where they will be the first in their family to go to college, or, first to graduate from high school. Head of household data for Milwaukee’s children show that 20% have not attained a high school diploma, 55% have a high school degree or GED, 8% have an associate degree and 17% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.⁴

M-cubed is an investment in the education or our city’s students, which is a critical component for our region’s economic success and overall vibrancy. M-cubed will increase collaboration, ensure alignment and leverage internal and external resources to build an education pipeline focused on increasing student and community success.


How does M³ define “success”?

M³ defines success as an effective K-16 pipeline, providing higher levels of education and workforce readiness for individuals, as well as the talent and skills needed by Milwaukee employers.


What are the goals of M³?

  1. Raise aspirations, readiness and student success
  2. Educate families about the value of post-secondary learning
  3. Align curriculum and services from middle school to post-secondary education to create a seamless system
  4. Create and cultivate a culture of learning in which there is an expectation to continue education after high school
  5. Engage the student voice, provide safe spaces, and commit to equity and inclusion.


Who is working on M³?

MPS Superintendent Keith Posley, MATC President Vicki Martin and UWM Chancellor Mark Mone are the strategic leaders of the initiative. Each institution has identified critical faculty and staff – 100+ people altogether – to co-lead efforts around the five goals as well as provide communication, fund-development, administrative and research support.


What are some specific outcomes M³ seeks to achieve?

  • Ensure student career choices align with academic preparation. This will be accomplished by implementing a consistent, well-supported Academic and Career Planning (ACP) process for all MPS sixth graders, who will revisit and revise the plan with guidance support up to and through their college years.
  • Engage the family, parents and guardians of secondary students, in planning and advocacy to support their child’s bright future.
  • Align curriculum and support services for students transitioning from MPS to MATC and UWM.
  • Accelerate college completion by educating MPS high schoolers on available resources like early college credit options, including dual enrollment and advanced classes, and providing in-school training and incentives to increase citywide completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Ensure M-cubed institutions are committed to equity, inclusion and safe spaces by hosting cultural events and programs that bring students together from diverse backgrounds to dialogue, learn from each other and volunteer within their hometown.


What progress has been made already?

  • Implemented Career Cruising, a tool used by all three institutions to support Academic and Career Planning from middle school through postsecondary education
  • Launched the M³ Parent Institute in the fall of 2016 at 13 MPS high schools, where parents of ninth- and tenth- graders can learn more about and support their child’s academic and. Fourteen remaining MPS high schools launch their six-week institutes in the spring of 2017
  • Hosted a first-ever professional development workshop for 100+ MPS, MATC and UWM educators to plan for enhanced curricular alignment and student success in English Language Arts, Math and Science from K to 16
  • Celebrated the success of the first M³ Summer Math Prep program in which 46% of participating MPS grads at MATC and 33% at UWM completed an intense summer support effort and placed into credit bearing math coursework prior to the start of their first year of college. An additional 28% of MPS grads at MATC and 38% at UWM placed into a higher level remedial course, shortening the time needed to reach their first credit bearing math course. This effort was funded in part with a $25,000 grant from Milwaukee Succeeds Funders Collaborative.
  • Hosted a shared community volunteer project and dialogue about common issues facing urban youth for students from all three institutions.


How does M³ differ from Milwaukee Succeeds?

M-cubed is a partner with Milwaukee Succeeds. MPS, MATC and UWM faculty and staff share Milwaukee Succeeds’ goal of success for every child and many serve on Milwaukee Succeeds’ leadership and/or network teams. M-cubed is focused on over 140,000 students in the three urban public K-16+ educational institutions in Milwaukee and the linkages between them – curriculum, faculty development, parental involvement, etc. It has equal emphasis on K-12 and higher ed, and addresses all students attending these three institutions. Milwaukee Succeeds also encompasses education in the private school systems, and tracks health and social service outcomes.In contrast, Milwaukee Succeeds has been focused on earlier childhood learning outcomes (notably reading and birth to pre-school) in a select number of public and private schools.

What will be the difference in the community in 1 and 3 years as a result of M³?

Evidence of impact will include:

  • An increase in MPS high school graduation rates;
  • More students entering and completing college credits in the first year of a postsecondary program;
  • A boost in citywide FAFSA completion;
  • Academic and Career plans will be established for all students, who will draw on these plans in making course selections and applying for internships in the high school and college years;
  • Strengthened parent and family engagement to support Milwaukee youth achieving early academic and/or workforce success.


What resources support M³?

Resources for M-cubed are drawn from multiple sources, including:

  • In-kind support: In-kind includes staff time allocated to planning and executing M-cubed initiatives, plus facility use and administrative support. Through 2016, with an M-cubed core leadership team of 100+ individuals, the in-kind support contributed carries an estimate of $250,000. In-kind support will increase in 2017 as additional faculty, teachers and staff from each institution increasingly align their work with M-cubed efforts.
  • Reallocation of internal resources: Through 2016, each M-cubed institution identified an additional $30,000 – $75,000 ($90,000 – $225,000 total) of internal funds to support M-cubed efforts.
  • External funding: For M-cubed to reach its full potential, the initiative seeks external funds through grants and donations. An early success achieved by M-cubed was an award from Milwaukee Succeeds’ Funders Collaborative ($25,000) for a Summer Math Prep Program focused on reducing the need for math remediation for MPS students entering MATC and UWM in Fall 2016. Additional philanthropic requests are in process.


How did M³ get started?

Following agreement of the M³ concept by the original Executive Sponsors (former MPS Superintendent Dr. Driver, Dr. Martin and Dr. Mone), planning began in summer 2015. In 2016, M³ cross-institution teams identified strategies, established metrics and requested funds to support fall 2016 implementation. Dr. Posley had been involved in M³ from its inception, and when he became MPS superintendent in 2018, he reiterated his commitment and the commitment of MPS to the M-cubed cause. M³ efforts are revised annually and will continue over multiple years.


How can educational institution members become involved? Ditto for community members?



¹ 39% of Milwaukeeans under 18 live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level; http://datacenter.kidscount.org; 2015

² Unemployment rates for noninstitutionalized individuals 18-64 years of age stand at 7.6% compared with 5.0% unemployed in Wisconsin; American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2011—2015

³ Wisconsin Department of Corrections records show incarceration rates at epidemic levels for African American males in Milwaukee county. Over half of African American men in their 30s and half of men in their early 40s have been incarcerated in state correctional facilities; Pawasarat, J. and Quinn, L., “Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African American Males: Workforce Challenges of 2013”

⁴ http://datacenter.kidscount.org; 2015