The Black and Latino/a Ecosystem and Support Transition (BLEST) Hub at Marquette has released its 2023 “State of the Ecosystem Report.” The second ecosystem report from Blest highlights the hub’s commitment to creating new avenues to support Black and Latino/a students in Milwaukee via research and programming efforts with partners throughout the city.
Housed in Marquette’s Center for Urban Research, Teaching and Outreach (CURTO), 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.
Among his past year’s initiatives, the BLEST Hub is leading research and data efforts in the push to certify Milwaukee as a My Brother’s Keeper City by the Obama Foundation. The BLEST Hub also released an accompanying podcast to its annual report as part of the CURTO Conversation series. In the podcast released Aug. 14, Dr. Gabriel Velez, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership and faculty director of the BLEST Hub, discussed the recent trends, challenges, and developments in the Black and Latino/a student ecosystem with community partner Walter Lanier, CEO of the African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee, and BLEST Hub student researchers.
Other new efforts from the last year include:
- Building and disseminating a timeline of the ecosystem
- Deepening dual enrollment work to include targeted programming, research reports, podcasts and local coalition building
- Expanding a network of graduate and undergraduate student researchers
- Restarting the Leadership and Brotherhood (LAB) Summit in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Schools’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement
Along with key educational statistics about the city of Milwaukee, the 2023 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 locally and internationally. With educational infographics, readers will be able to learn more about the current issues affecting Milwaukee students.
Velez co-led the preparation of the report with the newly appointed BLEST Hub Associate Director Dr. Troy Washington, as well as graduate student Michael Vazquez and undergraduate researchers Kendall Watts and Imoni DeJesus.
The BLEST Hub’s vision is to contribute to improving life outcomes for Black and Latino/a students in the Milwaukee area by building understandings of and reinforcing supports for these students during periods of transition from middle school through postsecondary completion and/or fulfilling and stable employment. This encompasses 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.