Donors commit $2.1 million to UWM initiative dedicated to eliminating equity gap and helping students succeed

A group of donors has committed $2.1 million to an initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee dedicated to ensuring that students of color graduate at the same rate as white students to help eliminate long-standing equity gaps.

 Through their partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the donors established the Moon Shot for Equity Fund at GMF to marshal this support for key grant programs tied to the Moon Shot for Equity — the sweeping initiative that is central to UWM’s work as a student-focused university.

Through the Moon Shot initiative, UWM strives to eliminate equity gaps so that students of color graduate at the same rate as white students by 2030. UWM also seeks to help more first-generation students and those from lower-income households graduate from college. These efforts will be data-driven and evidence-based, with ongoing monitoring of results.

“This generous gift of $2.1 million is a breakthrough and a critical boost for our students. The investment allows UWM to make microgrants that can be life-changing for students whose educations were interrupted for various reasons,” UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said. “This investment will advance the university by focusing on student success and help meet the needs of our region and state by providing highly skilled, in-demand graduates.”

The gift will be used to fund:

  • Emergency grants for students with sudden, critical needs,
  • Re-entry grants for students looking to return to school to finish their degrees after leaving for a period of time, and
  • Grants for continuing students nearing degree completion in need of support to remove financial barriers that would have prevented continued enrollment.

“It is our hope and intent to help raise greater awareness and additional private and public support for Moon Shot and to grow a community-wide appeal to the leadership of the University of Wisconsin System, the governor and the legislature to continue and expand the vital public investment in Moon Shot for deserving young people whose lives and futures depend on it,” said Charles Trainer, spokesperson for the donor group.

“Public investment must be continued and expanded by the state,” Trainer said, “and we believe that additional support from the private sector will follow.”

The Moon Shot for Equity Fund is providing present and future donors, UWM and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation the opportunity to collaborate for greater impact.

“Philanthropy is essential for advancing racial equity in higher education and everywhere that disparities prevent young people in our community from reaching their full potential,” said Ellen Gilligan, Foundation president and CEO. “Bringing together our donors’ incredible generosity with UWM’s intentional focus on eliminating equity gaps for its students is a collective step toward a more thriving region and aligns directly with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s role in building a Milwaukee for all.”

The Moon Shot for Equity is a pillar of UWM’s broader strategic plan to be a more student-centric university and provide services and support that help all students succeed and graduate.The work is rooted in the Moon Shot for Equity partnership that UWM joined in 2020 with education firm EAB, a collaboration formed to duplicate the success achieved since 2012 at Georgia State University. UWM is one of four southeastern Wisconsin higher education institutions, including Carthage College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and UW-Parkside, that together formed the first regional Moon Shot partnership in the country.

“Moon Shot’s comprehensive approach removes obstacles and creates solutions that will lead to meaningful and lasting change,” said Phyllis King, executive director of UWM’s Moon Shot for Equity initiative.

“These new funds will help transform the university and support the next phase of our work,” King said.

For more information on supporting the Moon Shot for Equity, please contact Joan Nesbitt, vice chancellor of university advancement, at