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A message from Kathy Thornton-Bias, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee regarding the Supreme Court of the United States’ Affirmative Action decision.

The recent Supreme Court decision to strike down Affirmative Action means that race can no longer be a consideration during the college admissions process. Since the 1960s, to diversify their campuses and overcome inequality in higher education, many American colleges and universities have given preference to applicants from underrepresented groups.

When I learned of the ruling, I paused for a moment to grasp the full weight of this decision. My first reaction was shock. As days have passed disappointment, disbelief, and anger have set in. This decision will further exaggerate and complicate the already challenging educational environment for our students of color.

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM) is to inspire and empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Our work provides us with the privilege of connecting with thousands of Milwaukee’s youth each day. We clearly see and understand the obstacles they face.

Young people in Milwaukee experience the daily realities of financial hardship, reckless driving, shootings, murder, and violence. Only 65% of Milwaukee high school students graduate from high school. Of those who graduate 32% attend college and only a portion of these students earn associates or undergraduate degrees. We know that workers with high levels of education typically earn more and have lower rates of unemployment than those workers who have less education. Over a lifetime, reports show that college graduates will make 84% more than those with a high school diploma. What happens to our students today will impact them for their entire lives.

Due to and despite the alarming statistics about Milwaukee’s education outcomes, our resolve is strong, and we are undeterred in our goal to enable youth to reach their full potential. Though our community’s landscape presents youth with an uphill climb to graduate from high school and obtain any post-secondary education, our Grad Plus program provides high school students with support and mentorship to help them achieve their dreams. Our programs are effective.

Since our Grad Plus program began in 2008 nearly 700 students have graduated with college degrees.

• BGCGM recruits 9th through 11th grade high school students to join the program and 9th through 12th grade students participate in the program.
• The average high school GPA of our Grad Plus members is 3.40.
• 95% of these members are first generation college students.
• Grad Plus students have a 100% college acceptance rate.
• The average college GPA of the Grad Plus students is 3.21.
• Thanks to their commitment and hard work 95% of our Grad Plus students graduate from college with minimal student loan debt.

Thank you to Marquette University, UW Milwaukee, Alverno College and other college and university partners across the state who have already confirmed their commitment to diversity on their campuses. Every student deserves the opportunity to earn an education in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

We will not allow the Supreme Court decision to hinder progress and success for Milwaukee’s youth. They will achieve excellence and we will help them get there. They deserve our best and we will deliver. I invite you to join us in this critical work.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Milwaukee’s youth and our mission. Our young people are strong and determined and we will help them become the next generation of Milwaukee’s leaders.


Kathy Thornton-Bias
President and CEO
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee