Marquette’s Center for Urban Research, Teaching and Outreach (CURTO), through the Black and Latino/a Ecosystem and Support Transition (BLEST) Hub, has released its 2022 “State of the Ecosystem Research,” which highlights the continued commitment to create new avenue to support Black and Latino/a students in Milwaukee via research and programming efforts throughout the city.
The BLEST Hub began in 2019 as a collaboration among major educational institutions in Milwaukee, including Marquette, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Milwaukee Public Schools.
“In some ways, 2021-22 was a difficult year for Black and Latino/a students in Milwaukee,” the report says. “As the pandemic stabilized and educational institutions and everyday life returned to some semblance of normal, its lasting impacts, reverberations and deepened challenges became increasingly apparent.”
The first “State of the Ecosystem” report was released in 2021. Since then, the BLEST Hub has:
- Grown and updated the ecosystem map visualization
- Engaged with the local restorative justice community and laid the groundwork for supporting the growth of this work across the region and beyond
- Began to scan the dual enrollment landscape in Milwaukee and Wisconsin
- Expanded research efforts to include Hispanic Serving Institution work and MATC student experience
- Started a youth consultant pilot program to integrate young people’s voice into our work
- Built a network of graduate and undergraduate student researchers
Along with key educational statistics about the city of Milwaukee, the 2022 State of the Ecosystem report highlights new research projects focused on the Black and brown college student perspective, a historical view of Milwaukee’s educational policy, and Restorative Justice initiatives both locally and internationally. With educational infographics, readers will be able to learn more about the current issues affecting Milwaukee students.
“The 2022 State of the Ecosystem Report will allow the BLEST Hub to present Milwaukee’s educational landscape and call on interested individuals and entities to engage with the project and to come together to form greater synergies and become involved with bettering educational outcomes in the city,” says Dr. Gabriel Velez, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership.
Velez is faculty director of the BLEST Hub and co-led the preparation of the report with graduate student Saúl Lopez and undergraduate students Roberto Arce and Fátima Jiménez González in the College of Education.
The vision of the BLEST Hub is to contribute to improving life outcomes for Black and Latino/a students in the Milwaukee area by reinforcing spaces and connections that support these students during periods of transition from middle school through post-secondary completion and/or fulfilling and stable employment. This encompasses understanding and identifying gaps in services offered and working towards amplifying and supplementing what is available.
CURTO positions itself as an intellectual axis and key convener of programs that address issues central to affirming human rights and human dignity. In alignment with Marquette’s mission to search for truth and the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the center facilitates collaborations that bring together a wide array of community and campus experts.